WELCOME TO MY TRAVEL BLOG

I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Paris, France: Our Last Day

This morning we caught the train to Paris! We arrived around lunch time and took a taxi to the hotel. Our room was ready and after leaving our bags we left to find a place for lunch. We ate close by at Au Verre Siffleur. It was delicious! Danny had lamb and I had a nice cut of beef with a peppery cream sauce. After lunch we went back to the hotel to nibble on some of the sweets we have picked up along the way, drink a little espresso and enjoy our balcony. We walked to Montparnasse Tower and went up to the observation deck to see over the city. It is 56 floors up and a great view! We then walked over to Luxembourg Gardens. I have always wanted to watch the little sailboats on the water and today didn't disappoint. From there we found my favorite macaron shop, Pierre Herme. I had to stand in line today but it was worth it! Danny found the crepe stand in front of the St Germain church. We have always wanted to try their crepes and today's crepe sucre (sugar crepe) was delicious!! We then went to stand in line for Relais de l'Entrecote. We got there about 6:45 which is perfect timing for the opening at 7. As usual, it was delicious!!! We took the metro back to our hotel and are all packed up to go home tomorrow. It has been a wonderful and memorable trip!!

Bordeaux, France: After the Wedding

This morning Danny and I slept in a bit after such a late night and had a light breakfast. We were to go back to the winery for "brunch" but their brunch is timed for 12 which we would call lunch. Anna told us that she was told that many wouldn't be at the brunch until 1 or later so we timed our arrival for 1 to allow Anna a few extra minutes of sleep because she didn't get home until 5 a.m. There were a lot of problems securing a taxi. Brunch was delicious with more champagne, chicken, beef, and egg dishes and delicious strawberry and apple tarts. We enjoyed this time visiting with our family members before we all scattered to go back to our homes. We are excited that our cousin, Martin, will come to visit us next year if all goes well. He wants to be a farmer and fortunately we know a lot of people with farms that would like a young, interested worker for awhile in the summer. After brunch we toured the winery before driving back to Bordeaux. Danny dropped us off near the hotel and then took the rental car back to the airport. When he returned we walked some more to see the last Porte we hadn't seen. We met Renee and Anna for dinner but skipped dessert in lieu of Amorino, my favorite gelato stop. We are back in the hotel and preparing to go to Paris on the train on the morning. Until tomorrow....

Bordeaux, France: A Wedding Day

We woke up to a partly cloudy morning. It's a perfect day for the wedding of Laurène to Benjamin! Danny and I ate breakfast and then he left to take a taxi to the airport to pick up the rental car. Anna didn't sleep well so she and Renee were having a slower morning. I went for a walk to see some churches and another Porte (Portal). I walked for about an hour and a half until Danny told me he was back at the hotel. I went back to the hotel and together we walked more in the city taking in the architecture. We went back to the hotel to get dressed for the wedding and to pick up Anna and Renee. We stopped at Paul on the way to the car and grabbed a picnic lunch which we ate in the car. The wedding was located about a half hour from Bordeaux at a little stone church in La Brede. The name of the church was Eglise St. Jean d'Etampes. We arrived around 3 and waited outside with the other guests and our family members. We were still outside when Benjamin and his brother, Valentin, drove up in a vintage Porsche! When Cathy arrived, we all went into the church to await the bride who was driven to the church by her uncle, Christophe. The mothers were escorted into the church and then Laurène was escorted in by her grandfather, Ton Ton Michel. Laurène was beautiful in a custom made gown with a lace bodice, her hair twisted up with little white flowers. Benjamin also looked very handsome. Their son Lucas was attended by Benjamin's sister and behaved very well during the ceremony. We didn't hear a peep out of him! The ceremony was performed in French of course and although we didn't understand the words, we did understand the elements of the ceremony and the tender and emotional moments between Laurène and Benjamin. They are such a precious couple. They asked Danny to sing during the ceremony and he sang Michael W. Smith's Agnus Dei but he sang it in French! Our family said his accent was perfect and he was told by several people and family members, including Laurène and Benjamin, how much they enjoyed his song. After the ceremony, we waited outside the church and threw rose petals at the couple as they exited. They visited with all of their family and friends before getting in the Porsche to leave for the winery where the reception would be held. There was some trouble getting the car to start, but with a little help they were on their way. When we arrived at the winery, the couple were having pictures taken while we began with a cocktail and aperitifs event. There was water with fruit in it and Champagne. Waiters walked around with trays of small bites as we waited for all of the wedding pictures to be completed. The dinner was next and began at 8:30. We were served our first course sometime after 9 but we weren't super hungry because of all of the little bites we had been given. Throughout the meal we were entertained with slideshows first of Benjamin and then later of Laurène. After dessert, which was served around 1 a.m. I think, we watched a compilation of short videos that we had all contributed to. These were of us toasting the couple with wine that we had also gifted to them in lieu of a guest book. By 1:30, it was time for the reception. We watched Laurène dance with her grandfather and then he danced with Cathy. When everyone started dancing, Danny, Renee and I decided that we would like to head back to the hotel. We left Anna to stay at the reception and she was able to get a very late cab back to the hotel. She arrived back about 5 a.m. but I'm pretty sure we were asleep by 3 a.m. It was such a wonderful and perfect wedding day! We were all so happy that we made the trip to be a part of it!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bordeaux, France: Arrival Day

We were up early for a 7:04 train to Bordeaux. We were surprised upon arriving at the train station to find the front of the station completely roped off and military men with oozie rifles keeping people away. This meant that we had to walk around the entire, very large train station and enter from the back. So I guess we got a good start with our exercise for today. I certainly sweated enough! We found a patisserie open for breakfast and purchased a Quiche Lorraine and a Pain au Chocolat for breakfast on the train. The train ride was long but we enjoyed views of little towns and fields of lavender and sunflowers along the way. The Bordeaux train station is a mess right now as construction is happening everywhere. Our train was one hour delayed and when we finally found the taxi line there were no taxis to be found! We ended up taking an uber which worked out just fine. It was 4:00 before we were settled in the hotel and we left to go and find some lunch. The lunch we ate was terrible at least for me. I didn't eat it and instead I ate Amorino ice cream while we were wandering. We went to Eglise Notre Dame Bordeaux and it was beautiful. We stayed long enough for me to try and take a few pictures but it was very dark in the church. We also located the place that Danny will park the car tomorrow when he goes to the airport and rents it. We wandered all over the city and found some of the old city gates. These are HUGE arched openings that are found around the old city. We also toured the Cathedral Saint-Andre also known as the Cathedral Bordeaux. It was intriguing to us that the main entrance is on the side of the church and that the front of the church is just a plain door. It was also very beautiful inside. I've seen so many beautiful Cathedrals and churches that the details all begin to run together, but that doesn't stop me from seeing as many as I can during my travels. We went back to the hotel to change for dinner and met Cathy, Bernard, Guillome and Ton Ton Michel for supper. Renee and Anna also came in from Paris and joined us. We had a delightful supper at Chez Jean nearby and caught up on all of the wedding details. Tomorrow is the wedding day of Laurene and Benjamin. We cannot wait! Until tomorrow....

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lyon, France: A day of discovery

Today we ate breakfast here at the hotel around 8:30. We set out walking in a different direction and found ourselves in the "art district" quite by accident. This was really fun for me because I enjoy looking for street art. I saw one that I recognize from Paris, Space Invader. He does tile mosaics that he applies high on walls. While looking for graffiti, I stepped off of the short curb, twisted my ankle and fell onto my knee. I wasn't injured other than a torn pair of blue jeans and a scraped and bloody knee. I picked myself up, got a big hug from Danny and we went on our way. I will pay more attention to what my feet are doing now! We saw the Hotel de Ville which is their City Hall. We went to the Voisin chocolate shop which is the oldest in Lyon. We think it rivals if not tops Maison du Chocolat! We found another Traboule and climbed stairs to a park named Croix Mousse. We heard a group of little children singing Old McDonald in French. It was adorable! Just like Montmartre in Paris, this area had lots and lots of stairs!! We then wandered and found a very interesting, abandoned church named Eglise Bon Pasteur. It was interesting because it was never used! The front door was 10 feet above the street! There was supposed to be a stairway built to it but it would have involved demolishing the military barracks across the street and the Lyon people would not have that! You would think they would have figured that out before they built the thing! The art school is now in those barracks and the beautiful stone church is completely abandoned. It was completed in the late 1800's. From there we went down more steps and looked out over the ruins  of a Roman Amphitheater said to be the first to use wild animals to martyr Christians. We were quite hungry with all of our walking and settled on pizza for lunch. We sampled some of our chocolates for dessert and determined that they were delicious and that we needed more. We walked back to Voisin and bought chocolates for gifts and ourselves! We then went on a walk across the Rhone River to another part of Lyon to find the Chocolatier, Berthillon. He is a bean to bar chocolatier and I am a fan of his large tablets of chocolate. After visiting his shop, we walked back over the river a different way to go back to the hotel for a rest and to drop off our chocolate so it wouldn't melt! On the way we found a beautiful old church, Eglise Saint Bonaventure. The interior was dark which made the light coming through the stained glass all the more beautiful. We were very impressed with the wall of stone carvings in the chapel for Mary and also the Chapel for Jesus. The organ was behind the altar instead of over the front entrance. It was just beautiful and we are so glad we stopped in. After taking a good rest at the hotel, we walked a different direction to find a sculpture I had read about. We also stopped at Starbucks! We go to Starbucks because we are pretty certain that if we order decaf we will receive that. In French coffee shops there is no decaf so we can't go there, as much as we would like to. We found Place Antonin Placet which is where a Belltower stands that is the only remaining part of the Charity Hospital that was once there. This was also where there is a sculpture of a giant bunch of flowers, and I am serious about giant! This sculpture is created by a Korean artist, Jeong-Hwa-Choi and is named appropriately, The Flower Tree. We wandered our way back to the hotel, always choosing different streets simply out of curiosity. For dinner we went to Le Maison Marie. The owner met us, seated us, discussed the all in French menu with us and served us! She was delightful. Danny had an appetizer of peppers and zucchini purée. He had pork belly for his meal but didn't expect as much fat on his pieces. It was supposed to be slow cooked, but I would have liked it cooked longer. I had a chicken breast with chorizo stuffed under the skin. It was delicious! For dessert we both had the chocolate mousse which was served over a thin praline cookie. The dessert was dark and yummy! We are back at the hotel, packing and preparing for a very early morning. We will catch the 7:00 train for Bordeaux tomorrow as the wedding weekend is about to begin! Until tomorrow...,

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lyon, France: Arrival Day

We had an early train to catch today for Lyon and the hotel was very accommodating to make sure that we received breakfast a full half hour before it was to begin serving. We took the hotel transportation to the airport and arrived at the train station just a few minutes before the train pulled in. We had plenty of time to find our car and seats before the train pulled away from the station. We took a taxi from the train station to our hotel, The Hotel Carlton Lyon. Our room was not ready but we just left our bags and went next door to lunch. Lunch was more expensive than we anticipated, but really good! Danny ate a gourmet cheeseburger and I had Veal Schnitzel and fries. After lunch we walked into the old part of town and toured through a couple of old churches. The first one we happened upon and was named Saint Nizier. The outside of the building was very cool, very large and very asymmetrical.  It was pretty inside as well. There is something about these churches and cathedrals that intrigues me. They are beautiful works of art. The next one we went to was a Roman Catholic Cathedral that is the seat of the Archbishop  in Lyon. Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste was also quite large and beautiful. It contains a beautiful astronomical clock dating from 1661. We waited along with several other people to hear it chime but discovered that an Iranian man broke it in 2013 by hitting it with an iron bar. He was arrested and claimed that the splendor of the clock prevented him from concentrating on prayer!! After our disappointing wait on the clock, we went to find the Amorino that we had passed. I was the only one who got gelato this time. The girl who dipped it was extra generous considering I bought the tiniest come. We then went up the funiculaire to the church on the hill, La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. This church was unbelievable inside. It was beautiful with extensive mosaics, carvings, painting and stained glass. It surprised us that it was built with private funds. It is a newer church as it was completed by 1884. After admiring the interior of the church we went back down the hill and found some Traboules. These are hidden passageways that were used by the silk traders to transport silk in bad weather and also by the Resistance against the Germans in WW II. The doors literally look like just and old door that would lead to someone's home but it leads to a corridor. Many of them go through people's private property and all passageways are locked at 7:30 for people's privacy. We hope to find more of them tomorrow. We went back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. We ate dinner at Fiston and had a memorable meal. Danny had wanted to try something unique to the area ordered Quenelles which is a dumpling made with diced Pike fish. It is so finely diced that you never get a bite of fish. It is served on a sauce and he said it was delicious! He also ate an appetizer of foie gras with fig chutney. I abstained from both of those, no surprise there. I had my usual piece of steak but this was served with traditional Lyonnaise potatoes. They are stack, thinly sliced potatoes baked between layers of cream (and probably butter too). They were delicious. For dessert I ordered half cooked chocolate cake which was basically a melting cake. Danny had the winner, tiramisu with red fruits. This kind of tiramisu does not have coffee in it. The red fruits gave a unique tart flavor that mixed well with the ladyfingers and sweet cream. We are back at the hotel and anticipating a fun day tomorrow. Until then....

Nice, France: A full day

Today was our last day and the only full day in Nice. We ate breakfast around 8 here at the hotel and made a phone call to check on our luggage. They said the luggage was on a plane from Paris and should arrive in Nice around 9. It would be brought to our hotel by 1. We were excited and I was particularly looking forward to getting some shoes on my feet that didn't hurt me. We walked and climbed a lot of stairs to Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) which has a beautiful overlook over the coastline and the city. It was the first area of Nice to be inhabited by the Greeks more than two millennia ago. It is now a lovely park that attracts locals and tourists alike. From there we wandered back down into the old town and visited a couple of old Cathedrals. We stopped for lunch at Le Romarin where I had pizza and Danny ate Socca (chickpea crepe) with a chicken Caesar salad. After lunch we ate Fenocchio gelato for dessert! They have tons of flavors making it difficult to choose. We bought incredibly delicious strawberries at the market in Cours Saleya and then went back to the hotel to drop off the strawberries and see if our luggage had arrived. Our luge still wasn't there. We made another phone call and this person said the luggage would arrive in 24-48 hours. We leave tomorrow morning!!!! We went back out to visit the Le Negressco which is a beautiful old 5 star swanky hotel. The elevators have red velvet quilted walls and each floor is decorated with beautiful pieces of art. We rode the elevator up to the top floor and took the stairs back down, stopping to admire the art along the way. Danny was looking everywhere for a crepe shop and we finally found a little place that fired up the crepe maker for him. There was another church we wanted to see that didn't open until the afternoon. We found it but no photography was allowed. It was very much an Italian influenced church with beautiful paintings covering the walls and ceilings. We decided that if our luggage didn't arrive that we would definitely need another shirt or two. We stopped at H & M and discovered that the best way to get your luggage back is to buy more clothes! As soon as we paid for our new clothes we received a phone call that our luggage was at the hotel! We walked back to the hotel and stopped at Amorino gelato along the way. It's one of my favorite gelato shops. They scoop the gelato (as many flavors as you would like) into a flower on a cone. I got chocolate, salted caramel, speculoos, passion fruit, and raspberry. An odd combination but it works! After resting our weary feet and celebrating the return of our luggage (and my shoes!), we walked to dinner at Le Bacchus which was located near the hotel. It was delicious!!! Another tripadvisor recommendation done well. We started our meal with roasted Brie in bread that had been soaked with honey and rosemary. It was so delicious! Danny ate duck breast with goat cheese and pine nuts and I had entrecôte and frites. We skipped dessert in lieu of gelato later in the evening. After dinner we walked back to the sea to listen to the tinkling rocks one last time. We sat and enjoyed the waves coming in and out and watched the ferry boat come into port. We went back to Amorino for another round of gelato before returning to the hotel to pack and turn in for an early night. We have an early train in the morning. So until tomorrow...