Greetings from Robbi and Jim

A warm welcome to the more than 6000 members of our Aroma Tours newsletter in over 35 countries around the world.

Robbi and I are greatly looking forward to the start of this year's adventures and sharing many delightful moments with our Aroma Travellers.

There are still places available for most of our tours, including our popular Aromas of Tuscany and Turkish Aromatic Odyssey but bookings will be starting to close very shortly.

For detailed information about any of our tours please visit our Information Request Page and if you would like to reserve your place please visit our Tour Booking Page

New Aroma Travellers Photo Page

We have compiled a new page of Photos of our Aroma Travellers enjoying their journeys with us over the last few years. Without doubt one of our favourite pastimes is to look back over our photo collection to see the smiling faces of our guests.

There are also hundreds of other lovely photos for you to enjoy in our Picture Gallery Pages

If you have not already done so, we invite you to read some of the Messages of Thanks we have received from last year's Aroma Travellers.

Aroma Travellers Our Thanks

One of the main reasons that we continue to grow and flourish, is the on-going support we receive from our past Aroma Travellers.

This year we be enjoying the largest number of return travellers we have ever had. Currently the level is 27% and it is a great delight for us 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.

The Holy Trinity of Lavender

With our first Provence Lavender Tour taking place this year I though it would be interesting to talk about some of the different types of lavender we will encounter on our adventures and recount a very serendipitous moment for me a few years back. 

We will most certainly be seeing a good deal of "true" French lavender, however, the main variety of Lavender cultivated in Provence is in fact not Lavender at all, but a hybrid plant called Lavandin.

Lavandin is very rare in the wild and results from the cross-pollination of True French Lavender ( L.angustifolia ) and Spike Lavender ( L. latifolia ). This rarity is because both True Lavender and Spike Lavender grow in distinct territories with little overlap - spike lavender is sensitive to cold temperatures and is unable to survive above 600 metres or so, whereas true lavender is comfortable above 500 metres and up to 1,500 metres. This only gives a region between 500 and 600 metres where both plants can grow and the opportunity for Lavandin to occur.

In all of the years we have been travelling to Provence we have never been able to find the "Holy Trinity":- True Lavender, Spike Lavender and Lavandin growing together in the wild. That is until one day a few years back when I was journeying about the countryside looking for wild aromatic plants, sniffing out chemo-types and generally poking about. Quite unexpectedly I found myself doing a triple take as there right before me was what was obviously a very healthy looking Lavandin plant growing happily in the wild. It could only be there as the result of natural cross-pollination because Lavandin can only be propagated by cuttings. So with great anticipation the search was on. Soon there it was, both parent plants, True Lavender and Spike Lavender growing inches apart with several Lavandin plants in view.

A gentleman by the name of Monsieur Grosso also came upon Lavandin in the wild but many years ago and discovered that it produced 4 to 6 times the essential oil of True Lavender, though not of the same high quality required for perfumery or aromatherapy. However, since the majority of the Lavender farmer's customers were only interested in having a Lavender-like smell in their soaps and detergents etc. most farmers decided to adopt this new plant as their crop of choice.

Today thanks to the process of propagation, Lavandin Grosso accounts for 80% of the "Lavender" crop grown in Provence - each plant the direct clone of that original wild Lavandin plant.

There is much more to say and numerous varieties of lavender and lavandin to explore but that moment of rare discovery was such delightful surprise and we look forward to sharing the secret spot with our Provence Lavender Tour guests.

The Story of Champagne

If you are new to our newsletter and have not already read the fascinating 4 part "Story of Champagne" that we published in our past newsletters, I highly recommend that you do so now by following these links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Current Booking Status

There are still places available for most of this year's tours and we would love to welcome you to join us on one of our Aromatic Adventures this year.

  • Despite significant weakening of the US dollar exchange rate, we have been able to keep our prices unaltered for the current tour season. However, next year we will be obliged to take this into account in the US dollar price for most of our tours.

Our current booking status is:-

2008 TOURS
2009 TOURS ( Early Release )
 

 
If you would like to reserve your place, please visit our Tour Booking Page and if you have any questions, 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). 

  • From the USA the international dialling prefix which replaces the '+' in our phone number is 011 from most other countries it is 00.

Aroma Tours in the Media ( repeat )

In our February newsletter we mentioned that Aroma Tours has just been featured in Frommer's directory. We have also just been interviewed by Lorna Owens on her popular radio show which is broadcast across the USA and internationally.

Over the years, we have never actively courted media attention and both Frommers and Lorna Owens contacted us after quietly observing our activities over a period of time.

I got to thinking and over the years this phenomenon of media interest has resulted in articles and interviews about our Aroma Tours in some interesting places including:-

House and Garden, Travel and Leisure, LA Weekly Times, Straits Times, Melbourne Age, Herald Sun, ZIP Radio Japan, Jetstar Magazine, Coast and Country, Sniffapalooza, ABC Radio Australia, RE2 Radio Ireland, Sydney Morning Herald, Times on Sunday, Cornucopia, Harper's Bazaar - Malaysia, Spa Asia, London Daily Mail, New Woman Magazine, Pure Magazine and the list goes on...... 

Not to mention the numerous aromatherapy related articles that we have written and had published around the world in multiple languages.

Cave House Hotel

One of our favourite experiences in Turkey is staying in a small village in the Cappadocia region where the countryside over the millennia has been sculpted by volcanic activity and erosion to form a fantastic moon-like landscape.

Because the rocks were formed from volcanic dust they are quite soft and as a result over the centuries people have been able to create houses and even entire underground cities. Early Christians chose to live in the area because of its isolation, giving them safety from persecution and built some of the world's first churches which they adorned with amazing Christian religious art that we can still experience today.

Our village accommodation is partly situated in a one thousand year old Byzantine monastery complete with frescoes, and most importantly modern conveniences. We stay in comfort, without distracting from the character and spiritual feeling of the area which has been continuously inhabited for more than five thousand years!

Traditional Turkish village life is everywhere around us with smiling faces and children running up to greet us, women filling their water pitchers from the communal fountain, children tending their flocks and the smell of hot fresh bread from the village stone oven.

Our hotel was the vision of our dear friend Ibrahim who decided to create a hotel in this out-of-the-way location to all others to share an amazing experience and most importantly to help raise money for irrigation and other improvements for the village. After much effort and overcoming of obstacles, with the help of a benefactor from Germany his vision was finally realized and we were amongst his first guests.

Each evening is full of enchantment as we sit watching the sunset painting colours across the amazing landscape then retire inside to a delicious banquet, sitting on cushions Turkish style, listening to fabulous live music played by the villagers as we chat, dance and laugh well into the evening. 

We have shared many delightful moments in this amazing place with our Aroma Travellers but one of the most touching was several years back when one of our guests received the sad news that his ailing sister had just passed away. He walked up through the village to a high point where he could continue his mobile phone conversation and as he was standing there on the hill with tears streaming down his face, a little girl, perhaps five or six years old came out through a wooden archway leading from her house. She came up to him and silently slipped her tiny hand into his and also began gently weeping.

She spoke no English, which didn't matter at all, for the language of the compassionate heart was fully present. Her generosity of spirit in action needed no words as they just quietly stood in comforting communion.

Scallops with Caramelized Endive

Robbi and I love this beautiful dish which can be served either as an entree or light meal and is guaranteed to tantilize your taste buds.

Ingredients ( serves 4 )

150ml unthickened cream.
4 heads of endive, cut into quarters lengthwise.
2 teaspoons unsalted butter.
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon castor sugar.
1/2 an unpeeled Granny Smith apple, cored.
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice.
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.
375g fresh scallops, trimmed. ( 4 or 5 for each person )
100ml veal stock.
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts. 

Method

  • Warm cream in a small saucepan over low heat until just simmering.
  • Add endive to the warmed cream and remove from heat. Cover and stand for 30 minutes.
  • Drain endive well, reserving cream for later use.
  • Heat butter and half of the olive oil in a frying pan over low heat; add castor sugar and endive then cook with regular turning for 10-15 minutes until the endive is caramelized all over. Keep warm.
  • Cut apple into very fine julienne strips and combine with lemon juice in a small bowl, making sure apple is well coated.
  • Strain cream into a small saucepan and warm slightly, then add parmesan using a whisk or electric beaters until mixture is a little thickened and foamy. Set aside.
  • Place serving plates in oven to warm.
  • Combine veal stock and vinegar in a small pan and bring to a simmer.
  • At the same time, warm the remaining olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan then add scallops and cook over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes each side until scallops are just cooked through.
  • As soon as the scallops are perfectly cooked, remove from heat and season to taste.
  • Divide the scallops and warmed endive amongst the warmed plates then artfully drizzle with a the cream and stock mixtures.
  • Garnish with apple and walnuts then serve immediately!
     

This dish is a real conversation stopper unless you are able to communicate in mmms and yums!

Be sure to use a good quality home-made or commercial stock and avoid over cooking the scallops.

Arranging Your Travel

Once you have reserved your place via our Tour Booking Page, all your need to do is make your travel arrangements to meet us at the tour rendezvous point. You can either ask your travel agent to assist you, or for the more adventurous you can book your flights and connections yourselves. All of our rendezvous are easily achieved and naturally we provide all of the information and assistance that you 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 etc.

Previous Newsletters and Stories of Interest

Our past newsletters contain a lot of interesting stories and are well worth a read. You can find them by visiting our Newsletter Archives

You may also enjoy reading a few of the stories that we have compiled over the years on our Stories of Interest Page

Thought for the Day

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." 
  ~ Abraham Lincoln

Our Invitation

Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats in the near future and invite you to take a peek at the latest photos of our travels in our Photo Galleries

If you would like detailed information about any of our tours please visit 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 ).

Please note you need to replace the '+' in our phone number by your country's international dialling prefix: from the USA it is 011 from most other countries it is 00.

Warmest regards,

Jim and Robbi


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