Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Au Revoir La France




Such a civilized end to our journey; no alarm, leisurely morning chatting with an Aussie stranger over a beautiful breakfast buffet, short stroll to the airport, simple but efficient security and painless border control. The airport employees all wear an uplifting shade of peach, which also matches the commode fixtures at Charles de Gaulle airport. The French are all about the aesthetics.

We had an an amazing lunch at the airport with a final order of French fries for good measure. We are looking forward to resuming our protein shake diet at home.

After a slight delay, we landed at MIA close to schedule. A remotely familiar couple from the cruise and flight hitched a ride with us to Marco. Two more hours of chatting. I'm tired of making conversation.😉

What a great trip! Thanks for following along. Here's a few random pictures. The French really are all about the aesthetics.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The French Paradox





The French paradox or "pair of ducks" as Bill likes to say is a curious phenomenon. It goes something like this: the French people can eat baguettes, croissants, creamy cheeses, pomme frites, pastries, fancy sauces, desserts, enjoy fine wines daily and not gain weight or have major health issues. What's that about?

One tour guide insists the secret to the French paradox is the consumption of only fresh foods. No packaged products, no fast foods, no soda.

I'm hoping I'll find the French paradox true to theory when I get home and weigh myself after these two weeks of wild abandon.

The Last Two Castles

  




After such comfortable accommodations on AmaDolce, two nights at the Novotel Amboise had the group anxious to move on. We gladly boarded the bus for the final day of touring.

The lovely ride along the Loire River was complemented by impressive residences and châteaux. The first stop, the massive Château  de Chambord, was the hunting castle of François 1 and an "architectural creation of genius." The enormity of the castle and grounds is obscenely decadent, especially considering it was a second home used primarily for leisure. It was an important site on this trip.

The second stop was was the Royal Château of Blois. Sadly, between the lowest temps of the trip and the miserable cold rain, we just wanted the tour to end and settle into the Pullman Hotel at Charles de Gaulle airport for tomorrow's departure. Enough!

The bus ride to Paris was long and slow but, nevertheless, warm and toasty. Rain complicated the journey. The Pullman hotel near the airport was a welcome sight. A beautiful, modern hotel with smiling staff and all the luxuries of home. We're almost home! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pomp and Splendor





The Loire River is also known as the Royal River and we now know why. Lots of castles in this beautiful region. It was a long day of touring and we're all ready to go home. 

With three major stops on the agenda, my favorite of the day was Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci's last home and resting place. A fascinating man and an equally fascinating restored museum in his honor.

My next favorite stop of the day was Château de Chenonceau, spanning the River Cher. A feminine castle, protected through French history by powerful woman. It is filled with intriguing appointments, art and is surrounded by magnificent gardens. 

The Château d'Amboise has an incredibly fantastic facade, as pictured in yesterday's post, but it was overwhelming to tour. We opted midway to walk the sweet little streets in town.

We stumbled upon the best meal of the trip at Le Patio. An amazingly simple "plat du jour" lunch bursting with flavors and culinary perfection. A veal chop dinner at Chez Bruno in Amboise was also good, but lunch was unforgettable.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tours and Amboise

  


Back on the TGV, we had a couple hours to relax in silence. For a lazy river cruise, this trip has been fast paced and strenuous. And to think that Bill and I are among the youngest! 

We arrived in the medieval town of Tours, in the Loire Valley, at noon. The buses were waiting at the train station for the group. In the city center, we walked the cobblestone roads for an orientation of the old town and then were free to go on our own for lunch. Bill and I opted for Thai food surrounded by students in this university town.

Another walking tour after lunch took us through the magnificent St. Gatien's (Martin) Cathedral. 

On our way to the Novotel Amboise, our bus driver took a detour so we may see the facade of a most beautiful castle: Château D'Amboise.

It was good to relax in our room, window open...sun shinning in, for a short while before a quick group dinner in the hotel.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bordeaux by Bike



Our group of bike enthusiasts were ready for the 9am tour but certainly not prepared for the chilly weather. With frozen hands and feet we meandered our two wheels through narrow streets, dodging cars and pedestrians. The Cité du Vin was a welcome stop. We toured the new wine museum and warmed up.

The afternoon proved to be a better time for peddling around the beautiful city. Bill and I rode along the river and found some cute shops in the city center. 

The captain of AmaDolce cruised the riverfront after dinner so we could enjoy the lights of Bordeaux on our last night. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Back to Bordeaux


Another chilly morning found us at the Créon Bastide market. We sampled cheeses, meats and bread before browsing the colorful foods and wares. I tried to buy a tablecloth but the metric dimensions were lost in translation. 

After a light lunch on the AmaDolce, a small group decided to skip the bus trip to Château de Montaigne and instead enjoy the lazy river cruise. The much needed respite from tour guides and Châteaux included lots of macaroons on board all afternoon. We picked up the other passengers in Bourg and all went on to our final stop: Bordeaux. 

Le canard was on the dinner menu and it was simply delicious. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Libourne, St. Émilion and Pomérol Region


A lazy morning on the boat cruising along the foggy Dordogne River turned out to have some element of excitement. In fact, it was so foggy that we almost had to turn the ship around and return to Bourg. Instead, our brave and skilled captain gently pressed on and treaded carefully under four bridges in the mist and made it to our destination: Libourne.

It was a spectacular afternoon for biking through the vineyards and stopping along the way for informative commentary on the region. We wandered along the steep and narrow streets of St. Émilion and enjoyed two varieties of macaroons. So yummy!

Back on the bikes, we met the busload of walkers at the beautiful and modern Château Soutard for a tour and tasting. The bikers were encouraged to take the bus back with the others after drinking wine.
Filet mignon was served at the festive Captain's dinner where we joined a fun group of soon-to-be good friends. We even stayed up long enough to join the sing-along in the lounge.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Blaye and Bourg




Riding through the vineyards, the river bank as the backdrop...pure magic. Fall colors popping out; the sun trying to do the same...pure magic.

What a thrill to be one with the land; peddling in the brisk autumn air. The countryside is rich with history. Magnificent rolling hills, châteaux and country homes dotting the landscape. A beautiful day on the bikes. A spectacular day in France.

A wine tasting at Cotes de Bourg. A floor show with dancing. The Chef's Table dinner. A full day of blessings.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Pauillac and Médoc






The sun was rising as the AmaDolce docked at the Gironde estuary. A group of aggressive walkers headed off of the boat in Pauillac for a brisk 8k morning tour through the vineyards. The gardens of Château Mouton Rothschild were beautiful. 

The afternoon tour took us by bus through some sweet villages of the Médoc region and a fun tasting at Château Léoville Poyferré.

Cadillac and Sauternes


The farmers' market in Cadillac was like no other. It was a beautiful presentation of meats, fruits, vegetable, flowers, clothing and jewelry. One could even buy a live chicken for producing eggs or for slaughtering. 

After the chilly morning, the afternoon tour to Sauternes was perfectly sunny and warm. We tasted some fine sweet wine and toured the historic castle of Roquetaillade. 

The natural defensive site was particularly interesting due to the contributions of the famed French architect and theorist, Viollet-le-Duc.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bordeaux


After an enjoyable train excursion from Paris to Bordeaux, we found our way to the Garonne River and boarded the AmaDolce, a floating luxury hotel.

After a brief orientation covering the week's cruising agenda, we took a couple of bikes for a ride along the river banks. It was bustling with activity. Long boarders, rollerbladers, joggers, strollers, and pooches were out and about on a mild afternoon. It's a young town with the wine industry at its core.

A gourmet dinner was served on the boat. It was a lovely day all around. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cold and Beautiful Paris

Burrr. I wasn't prepared for the drop in temps. Layer upon layer couldn't keep the chill out but it was still a lovely day of touring. Good food, wine and sights in the beautiful city of Paris.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MIA to JFK




In between reunions and outings with our friends and neighbors back home, we had lots of excitement with the arrival of Hurricane Matthew on the scene in early October. Matthew was a category 4 storm as it wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and buzzed the east coast of Florida. Luckily, Collier and Lee counties were spared his wrath.

After a long weekend with Jacksonville refugees seeking shelter from the storm, we said goodbye to Steph and the wee ones and battened down the hatches. Departing Miami for the first leg of our trip to the Bordeaux region in France, we're on our way to JFK, then Paris.

The fun year of travel continues in Europe. Stay turned!!!

Monday, September 26, 2016

The End of the Road



Whether you joined us at camp or welcomed us into your home, we feel so blessed to have spent time with each and every person. We were so lucky to enjoy snippets of everyone's colorful life. You made our journey!

Bill and I would like to thank all of our friends and family who graciously accommodated not only us in beautiful homes, but also our furry pooch, Solo. That's real love and friendship!

Thank you to our blog readers. The support and enthusiasm for our road trip and new RV was heartwarming. We hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did!


Home to a Sink Hole

Our good neighbors had prepared us in route, but this was the scene when we arrived home after 22 days and 4,754 miles: a sink hole in our front driveway. A city main water pipe burst and flooded our property. The only damage is a big hole. Luckily, water was contained to the street. 

The Final Visit of the Journey

After such a fun stay with Steph, the final push to SWFL was a breeze. Welcoming us back to the rainy season, sure and begorrah the downpour started minutes away from our final stop. We met young Will for dinner near his new home in Estero. Solo was totally freaked with the lightening and thunder. We were all drenched as we greeted our baby in the lobby of Ruth Chris Steak House.

The celebration meal was fabulous; far exceeding my expectations for a steak house. Young Will looked terrific and seemed happy to see his parents and pooch. One more hour left in the road trip.

Sadly, we didn't get pictures of a few people on the journey, including our sons Chris and Will, my sister Nancy, Terr, Kate, my friends Irene and John. We'll have to do it again!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Back in Florida!


After fifteen states and two countries, we rolled into Ponte Vedra FL about 5pm. Landon, Amelia and Savannah were busy with friends and happy to see Solo. GramKat and Papa Bill got a loving greeting, too. 

Steph and Dewayne prepped appetizers for their cocktail party while Bill and I changed into our finest non-camp attire. It was fun to mingle with the kids and grown ups before taking a wild golf cart ride to a local wine tasting event at Nocatee.

It was a big night and big sleepover for all. Papa made his famous pancakes with a special treat of North Woods smoked bacon for breakfast. 

And just like that we were out the door on the final leg of our journey. We have been so blessed with love and kindness for over 4000 miles.




Sisters!


Mary Ann came to meet us outside of her hometown of Bluffton SC. Typically we try to get a meal in when passing through I-95, but the timing doesn't always work. Although Glenn couldn't make it this time, we four (Solo) enjoyed the fare al fresco at a great little restaurant in Pooler called Pie Society. 

It's always good to see my sister, even if it's just a couple hours. 💚

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I-95 South


With some Italian leftovers in tow, we bid goodbye to the Shore Rogers and started on our journey home. Luckily, it was an uneventful drive to Fayetteville NC. 

We pulled off the road at the most unpleasant campground of the trip with hordes of nats and bad vibes all around. At least we feel safe and are self-contained in the tiny house.

We'll be back in Florida sometime this afternoon!💙💚💙💚

Friday, September 23, 2016

More from the Shore

Kristy was slaving in the kitchen when we arrived from Sandy Hook. Alexis and Devin were lounging after school. Another snippet of life. Another little vignette we've been blessed to be a part of on this trip. 

Chris arrived from work in NYC and cracked open some very fine wine. We feasted on homegrown tomato sauce, fresh pasta and homemade ricotta cheese. So good!

Our teenagers schooled me on the latest IOS update and provided pop culture commentary on many topics. So fun to be around their energy and hard to get a still pic:)