Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mannheim Germany

We awoke in Mannheim Germany Sunday. Several excursions were available and we opted for a 36km bike ride to Schwetzingen Palace and Gardens.

Now that we have officially become connoisseurs on palaces and gardens after this year of travel to France and Russia, the Schwetzingen Palace was just okay. The gardens were expansive and lovely.

We apparently missed a great excursion to Heidelberg, but it was good to get the cycling exercise. There's lots of eating and drinking going on!

Strasbourg France

From the famous Cathedral to modern city architecture to the Petite France neighborhood with 17th century structures and canals, we enjoyed all the sites by bikes.

Strasbourg is truly a bike friendly town with an accommodating infrastructure and lots of storks' nests.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Basel Switzerland to Breisach Germany

Aside from plenty of tunnels from Lucerne to Basel, it was an uneventful bus ride through the mountains. We hit the third largest city in Switzerland at rush hour. Our beautiful ship was docked on the Rhine River and ready for boarding.

Reunited with John Riley, our cruise manager, and one hundred plus other passengers from around the world, we made ourselves comfortable aboard the AmaWaterway ship AMAPrima.

Dinner was festive and most passengers were back in their cabins when AmaPrime started it's overnight cruise to Breisach Germany.

Friday morning's excursion was popular. Buses left the dock for Riquewihr France. Arguably one of the most beautiful villages in the heart of Alsace, many of the homes date back to 16th and 17th centuries.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mountain Lakes: Zürich to Lucerne

The tour bus meandered through the Swiss countryside in route to Lucerne. The rolling green pastures, dotted with grazing cows, introduced scenery quite different from Zürich.

We passed through Zug and enjoyed the sights, albeit from the coach window. Zug is a bustling city surrounded by the shores of the sprawling Lake Zug, nestled in the mountains.

The Lake of the Four Forest Cantons, further on our ride through the Alps, was a magnificent shade of emerald blue. This is where the legend of William Tell originated. The bus dropped us at Vitznau, a port at the base of Mt. Rigi. We all enjoyed a sunny boat ride to Lucerne. The scenery from the land and water was breathtakingly spectacular in all directions.

We had a quick guided tour in Lucerne after lunch, which included a visit to the historically significant dead Lion Monument. A thoughtful carving in sandstone honoring courageous warriors and the mortality of all humans. Mark Twain allegedly called the Lion Monument "the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world."

The unseasonably hot weather is continuing its drain on our energy, but we are all trying to take in as much as we can! And stay hydrated.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lake Zürich

With a little help from a friend, Bill slept like a baby until past 8am. Love those sleeping aids sometimes!

We had a leisurely breakfast and made our way to Zürich Bürkliplatz, the boat terminal within a 20 minute walk from the hotel. We opted for the four hour round trip excursion to Rapperswil. It was another day of the Zürich heat wave so we were excited to spend much of the day on the water.

The sights were beautiful!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Neighborhood Sweetness

After a big day of touring, we stumbled upon this sweet little garden just around the corner from our hotel: Drei Steuben Restaurant.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rosé All Day!

Public drinking is "no problem" in Zürich. I thought the clerk said "not proper." Lost in translation.

Travel adventure #24,672: Sitting on a park bench, drinking rosé in the shade, after walking for miles and miles.

Heat Wave in Zürich

Such a pretty city, but FL hot these couple of days touring. High 80s! We walked and walked and walked.

Birthday in Zurich

The rhythmic voice narrating my audio book lulled me in and out of slumber during the flight. I awoke to Bill wishing me a happy birthday on the approach to Paris. The connection to Zurich was tedious, but we had plenty of time. We checked into the Marriott Zurich where I was given a box of Swiss chocolates in honor of my birthday!

During a cocktail hour briefing with the cruise director in the bar, the Marco Men's Club surprised me with a lovely bracelet, birthday cake and song.

Bill and I jumped an Uber to Storchen Restaurant for a great dinner with a view on the Limmat River. We enjoyed the famous veal dish with cream and mushrooms, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes. So good!

Back at the hotel, a piece of yummy chocolate cake greeted us in our room. It was a wonderful birthday!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

MIA - CDG

Miami International Airport always feels so... how shall I say...International? A little foreign country within the city of Miami.

Paris-Zurich here we come in roomy comfort, which brings back fond memories of past British Airways non-rev travel years. My sister would advise before each flight: dress nice; wear hose, you may get upgraded. It worked almost every time.

Bon Voyage!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ginnie Springs FL

Steph invited us for a camp-out weekend at Ginnie Springs. It was one wild time with kids, grandkids and friends. Loud music and boozers filled the enormous campground on the hot weekend. Alcohol infused rafting, kayaking, snorkeling, paddling, diving and general partying took place down the lazy Sante Fe River and surrounding fresh-water springs.

Large-scale groups of campers and day-trippers enjoyed the festive parade of floats, boats, trucks, trailers, pimped-out golf carts, campfires and all other things FL macho. It was a bizarre, once-and-done, sort of fun weekend.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Last Hoorah in California

We checked out of the Windsor condo and headed west toward Jenner with a detour to see if the wolves were in the yard. No wolves, but we enjoyed other magnificent scenery as we followed the Russian River to the coast.

Spectacular sights along the dramatic, rugged Pacific lifted our spirits on the last day of a great vacation. The flora was so unusual as we sipped coffee and settled on a route. The winding coastline to Bodega Bay was simply beautiful. We stopped at the Visitor's center for a restaurant recommendation and took in the memorabilia from the famed Hitchcock movie, "The Birds," which was filmed in the town in 1963.

After lunch at the Tides Wharf restaurant we worked our way to the SFO airport hotel.

Julie's dinner recommendation, Lolinda, was a perfect finale in San Francisco. What a journey! Amazing food, wine, scenery and friendship. It going to be a hard trip to top!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Graton and Beyond

Our fun day started in the sweet little town of Graton where artists and farmers seem to have a strong foothold. A stroll through the few shops and a cappuccino at Willow Wood Market Café led us to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve. We weren't into hiking, but it was a beautiful spot for enjoying nature and the magnificent tall trees. We went back to Graton for another terrific meal. Underwood Bar and Bistro was a fun small plates and beer place for lunch.

On the way back to scout out the wolves,
A. Rafanelli called to say they could accommodate us in Dry Creek. We excitedly headed over to the private tasting with front gate code in hand. It was a great spot with terrific wines.

Back to the condo for a change of clothes, we then headed to Francis Ford Coppolla's Rustic restaurant. Lemon drop martinis set the mood for one of my favorite entrees. Whole fish baked in salt was on the menu and it was delicious.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Napa Valley

We were at Dierk's in Santa Rosa for breakfast before 9am. Our first wine tasting reservation of the day was at Sterling Vineyards, mainly for the aerial tram and scenic view of the Napa Valley.

Groth in Oakville was next. They are known for lovely full-bodied reds but we enjoyed their white wine, too.

After a quick stop across the street to see Silver Oaks' beautiful new building we went to Rutherford Grill for lunch. It was excellent.

We relaxed in the condo for dinner with Big John's crabs and a nice Jordan cab. "Bottle Shock" provided the evening's entertainment. The movie tells the story of the 1976 judgement of Paris where the US won the blind wine tasting contest, which elevated California winemaking to a respected status around the world.