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August 9, 2008

25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION-WINE COUNTRY

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LANCASTER ESTATES

My husband and I just got back from a trip celebrating our 25th anniversary. We stayed in Healdsburg and Glen Ellen, CA. We had a fabulous time exploring these regions and I'll write more about it in a few days. In the meantime, I thought I would show a couple of photos I took. The one above is of the vineyards at Lancaster Estate, in the Alexander Valley. It was a beautiful property, with some wonderful Cabernets.

This next picture is at Hawkes, also in Alexander Valley. We had a memorable time tasting wine on a deck that overlooked one of their vineyards.

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HAWKES WINERY


August 25, 2008

MEMORIES FROM A YEAR AGO - A TRIP TO ITALY

Last year, at the end of September/first of October, my husband and I had a wonderful trip to Italy. I am missing the beauty and culture of that country (and the food!), and am looking forward to our next visit. We were able to spend 3 weeks visiting Venice, Florence, Rome, and Southern Tuscany. I couldn't begin to say what my favorite area was-they were all unique and special in their own ways. I thought I would share some of my favorite memories.

The canal in front of our Bed & Breakfast in Venice:
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The view from the top of the Campanile in Venice:
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Closeup of the Duomo details in Florence:
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Michelangelo's Pieta in Florence:
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Sant Antimo Abbey:
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Stained Glass in a Church in Montepulciano:
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The Mosaic Floors in the Duomo in Sienna (we were lucky enough to be there when they were uncovered):
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The Swiss Guard at the Vatican:
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The Colosseo in Rome:
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The Fountains at Piazza Navona:
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The Market at Piazza Campo Fiori:
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The Ceiling of Sistine Chapel:
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What a wonderful trip we had, and I'm dreaming of the next...


February 4, 2009

BRUNELLESCHI'S DEATH MASK

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Filippo Brunelleschi 1377-1446

On our trip to Italy in Sept/Oct 2006, we visited the Museo dell-opera del Duomo. There were many fascinating things in this museum. One the the things I was taken by was Brunelleschi's Death Mask. I wasn't sure why I was so moved by this mask. I didn't even know what a death mask was. This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

In Western cultures a death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person's face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits. It is sometimes possible to identify portraits that have been painted from death masks, because of the characteristic slight distortions of the features caused by the weight of the plaster during the making of the mold. In other cultures a death mask may be a clay or other artifact placed on the face of the deceased before burial rites. The best known of these are the masks used by ancient Egyptians as part of the mummification process, such as Tutankhamon's burial mask.

In the seventeenth century in some European countries, it was common for death masks to be used as part of the effigy of the deceased, displayed at state funerals. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries they were also used to permanently record the features of unknown corpses for purposes of identification. This function was later replaced by photography.

Proponents of phrenology and ethnography also used both death masks and life masks (taken from living subjects) for scientific and pseudoscientific purposes.

February 9, 2009

HAWKES WINERY, HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA

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I thought I would do some posts about some of the different wineries we have visited in California. One of the wineries where we had a lot of fun (besides enjoying the wines) was Hawkes in Healdsburg. The winery is a small, family run winery. They have been growing grapes in the Alexander Valley for more than 30 years. They now own and farm three vineyards, all planted on sparsely soiled hillsides, and all yielding small amounts of highly intense fruit. Their wines don't always get high reviews because they are not the style that is so popular in California right now (ultra ripe, high alcohol content, etc.). Instead, their wines have more balance and are very food-friendly. They do currently have a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon that was rated 92 by Wine Enthusiast. I can say, we loved that wine. Most of their wines are also very affordable. This 2004 cab is just $40. They also do Chardonnay and Merlot.

When we visited the winery, we were taken there by our limo driver (we were celebrating our 25th anniversary). We met Jeremy at the tasting room, but then we drove to the top of one of their vineyards. They had recently built a deck there, for special tastings. Jeremy is a high school friend of one of the owners. He's fun, and knowledgeable. The photos here were all taken from the deck where we enjoyed the wonderful views, weather, and wine.

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Check out their website. They have some very interesting videos on there about the wine-making process. Also, if you like wine clubs they have a nice one. They don't have a large selection of wines, but we really enjoy them(we do the red only shipment), and shipping is FREE. That is huge when shipping to Alaska. Not only is shipping free for the wine club shipment, but if you belong to the wine club, any orders you place will be shipped free. We recently ordered a case of wine, and UPS destroyed the case in shipping. Jeremy sent me an e-mail that UPS had contacted him, and then said he would expedite a new shipment out to me immediately. Great service. And at Christmas, I received a small box from them that contained some Butterscotch Brownies to say thanks for the business. A nice touch from a small winery.

February 12, 2009

HUMPBACK WHALE

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I thought I'd show a photo that my husband took a couple of years ago. We were on Maui, and did a whale watching trip with Pacific Whale Foundation. We saw lots of whales, and saw this one breech out of the water. A pretty exciting viewing!

February 25, 2009

CANAL PHOTOS FROM VENICE

Today, I thought I'd show you a few photos I took when we were in Venice. I'm sure everyone's whose been there would agree that the canals make some of the most beautiful photos.

This first photo is taken just outside the B&B where we stayed-it's the yellow building on the right.
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This next one is another pretty canal.
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And this last photo is of some georgeous teak boats. My husband was drooling over these.
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February 26, 2009

ATLANTIS, IN THE BAHAMAS

Last year, I was lucky enough to win a trip to the Bahamas through my work. Although I'm not particularly a big resort person, this was a beautiful resort with tons to do. Here's a few photos:

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The large hotel.

Continue reading "ATLANTIS, IN THE BAHAMAS" »

October 23, 2009

A NICE VISIT TO PORTLAND OREGON

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This last weekend I went to visit a friend in Portland, OR. I was lucky in that we had nice weather most of the time. Okay, I wasn't lucky Saturday morning. I had wanted to visit a Farmer's Market while there, and we headed out mid-morning after packing up my friend, her 16 month old baby, her husband, the stroller, and myself into the car. It was nice when we left, but sometime during the 15 minute drive to get there, the clouds rolled in and it began to pour. We did our best looking around, but as the poor 16 month old began to get soaked, I knew it was time to go. But I did have time to find some lovely jams and vinegars. I purchased 2 vinegars-a Wildflower Honey and a Blueberry Basil. They both tasted wonderful. I bought 3 jars of jam-Lavender Pear-Fig, Lavender Marionberry,and Habanero Cherry. The lavender jams are so delicious. I've already had the Lavender Marionberry spread on toast, and the lavender flavor is such a nice addition.

Friday night my friend and I had dinner at a restaurant not too far from her house. It was called Paley's Place. We started off by sharing an order of Roasted Beets with Horseradish Cream and an order of Hand-cut Fries with Mustard Aioli. Both were really good, albeit not too healthy. For my entree I had Rabbit Ravioli wtih House Bacon, Mushrooms, and Summer Squash and my friend had the Grilled Pork Shoulder with Bacon & Fresh Corn Polenta, String Beans and a Spicy Apple Chutney. Again, both good, but mine was really good. I would most definately order it again. And I had a very nice glass of a French wine to accompany mine. We shared a Chocolate Mocha Cake for dessert, which was just okay (although we managed to eat most of it!). And I ordered a glass of Pear Brandy, which I had never tried and had always wanted to, and hope I remember that I never want to again. It was way too strong for me and I only had a couple of sips of it. Our bill came to $84, which is so reasonable compared to Alaska restaurants.

Continue reading "A NICE VISIT TO PORTLAND OREGON" »

September 27, 2010

I'm in Italy!!!

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Okay, I didn't think I was going to blog while on vacation, but I have wireless internet connection at our apartment so I changed my mind. I think it will be a great way to put everything in writing.

We left Anchorarage at 6am on the 25th. We flew on Alaska Air to Seattle. We spent the night at a hotel close to the airport on the 24th, so it made that 6am flight a little easier. We had a couple of hours in Seattle before our Air France flight left for Paris. Luckily, we have a pass to the Ak Air board room, so we were able to hang out there. We then boarded the plane to Paris, and was pleasantly suprised with how nice the business class on Air France was. About 45 minutes after departure, they began the lunch/dinner service. We had champagne as we departed, then were given a menu from which to make our choices. Scott had a beef steak of some sort, and I had a chicken stew (chicken, baby carrots, baby turnips, leeks, and a potoato in a nice light sauce). That was after an amuse bouche of crab salad, and a starter of duck breast, herb mayonnaise, and a few other things I can't remember. I skipped dessert, but it was a trio of small chocolate tortes. The flight was about 9 1/2 hours long, and after the lights dimmed, the seats were put into a flat (or almost flat) position, I tried to sleep. It didn't work.

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September 28, 2010

9-28-10 Bevagna - Umbria, Italy

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Today we spent the entire day in Bevagna, the small town we're staying at for 5 nights. On our last visit to Italy, I didn't have any problems with jetlag until going back home. Unfortunately, not this time. Today it hit me hard. I think I only slept about 1 hour last night, so I was dragging today. That made it a good day to take it easy and just walk around the town.

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September 29, 2010

9-29-10 Spello, Umbria, Italy

Today we spent the day in Spello. It's a very beautiful town. The streets are beautifully made, and there are flowers everywhere. Here's a photo of what some of the houses look like.
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September 30, 2010

9-30-10 Driving to Spoletto

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Today, we got a late start. After a cappucino and cornetto, we headed off towards Spoletto. We bought a new GPS with Italy maps before we left, and it's been invaluable. We took the backroads to get to Spello, and it was a beautiful drive. The grapes are being harvested right now, and we passed many vineyards yet to be harvested, and the vines were so pretty with their full bunches of grapes.
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We stopped many times along the way, so didn't get to Spoletto until after noon. We walked around a while, then sat in a beautiful park and enjoyed the picnic we had brought along-a bottle of Prosecco, bread, cheese, salami, tomatoes, cookies and fruit. Maybe it was the bottle of wine, or maybe we were just tired after walking a couple of hours already, but we only visited a few places after that. We went to the Duomo and had a look around. A very beautiful church. There was a lot of construction going on, so a lot of it was covered with scaffolding. Maybe we missed a large part of Spoletto, because I didn't like the town. It just didn't have the quaintness that the other towns we've been in have had.

After leaving Spoletto, we took a very windy and roundabout way back to Bevagna. Here is a photo of the breathtaking scenery.
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I took a nap when we got back home, then we headed out for dinner. Although there were other restaurants in town we wanted to try, we decided to go back to the one where we had eaten a couple of days earlier. We didn't get there until 8:30pm, and there was only one other table of two. I think tourist season is over here in Bevagna. We had another very good dinner. I started with Zuppa di Farro.
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Scott started with Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms.
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These Primi dishes were enough to fill us up, but we had ordered Secondi. I had Tagliata di Manzo con rucola. It was the most tender and flavorful beef I've had in Italy.
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Scott had pork stuffed with sausage. It was also very flavorful.
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Tonight's dinner with 2 Primi, 2 Secondi, 1/2 liter of house wine, a bottle of water and the coperto charge was 49 euros.

It's time to go wake up Scott. We're not used to having a really dark room to sleep in, and the shutters on the windows here do such a good job. I haven't decided where we're going today-it's our last day in Umbria, as we check out in the morning and he1ad towards Tuscany. Maybe Assissi. You'll find out where we went in my post tomorow. Ciao

October 1, 2010

10-1-10 Montefalco

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Today we were going to go to Assisi, but decided to stay in small uncrowded places instead. We drove the backroads to Montefalco, another beautiful drive with acres of vineyards and olive tree fields.

The town of Montefalco was easy to find, and the parking was very easy. The town was not crowded at all, again, having me think that tourist season must be over. The first shop I had to visit was the Pardi shop. I would have liked to purchase a table cloth, but I forgot to measure the length of my table before leaving, so I didn't want to take the chance of purchasing the wrong size. So I bought 2 table runners, 2 placemats, and 6 napkins. All very beautiful. And I couldn't believe what a great price they were.

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Continue reading "10-1-10 Montefalco" »

10-2-10 Leaving Bevagna

Sorry, but today you don't get to see any photos of our dinner we had last night. I forgot to take them at the beginning, then decided against just taking one or two. We had our last dinner in Bevagna, and decided to eat at Ottavius Ristorante. I had read a good review on SlowTrav, although I had read the service wasn't good. Unfortunately, this was our least favorite meal so far. We didn't have reservations, but that didn't seem to be a problem as it was very slow. We were shown to our seats, and were not even given a moment to remove our rain coats before the hostess/waitress wanted to know what kind of water we want and shoved menus in our hands. There appeared to be only two people working. One, the Italian lady who wasn't very friendly, and one very nice lady who also spoke some English. They didn't have two of the things we had ordered from the menu, so after deciding again what to eat, I started with proscuitto and melon. Both were good, especially teh proscuitto. I think the menu said it was from Norcia. It's not as delicate as Parma proscuitto, but I think I like the flavor better. Scott started with the Stringozzi pasta with Piccanti sauce. The pasta was really good, the sauce was just okay. Next, I had the Gnocchi al Sagrantino, which is their specialty. I have to say this dish was very good. The gnocchi was a little heavier than I prefer, but the sauce was perfect. Scott had the Scottadito di Agnello, and the lamb was just okay. Scott is o
n the search for the best Tiramisu, so he had to have this, and it was very good. With a 10E bottle of wine, and a bottle of water, the total was 57E.

I awoke again at 5:30am, which I've done most days here. Not really sure why, because I don't get up at that time at home. I've been packaging up my goodies I've bought so far, and am wishing I'd brought more bubble wrap from home. Here's my list of purchases so far:

Amarena Cherry Marmalade
Ground Black Truffle paste
Orange honey
Truffle honey
Truffled sauce
Fig jam
Fig confit (figs, chocolate, liquor)
Umbrian olive oil
1 bottle of Sagrantino wine
2 bags of Barlotti beans
Lenticchia(tiny lentils)
Farro Perlato
Farro Cannellini
Cannellini beans
Chicchi Bronzi Classici(at this store, she said it's a tiny pasta that is added to risotto or cooked like risotto)
4 Pardi dish towels
2 Pardi runners
2 Pardi placemats
6 Pardi napkins

Considering it's only a week into our vacation, I hope I have the room (and money) to bring back the wonderful things I'll now find in Tuscany, then in Paris.

I don't know if I will have internet access at our next apartment in Tuscany, and we're there for 7 nights. Hopefully I will and you'll keep hearing from me, but if you don't, it means no internet access was available.

October 2, 2010

10-2-10 The drive from Bevagna to Civitella Marittima

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Today we checked out of our apartment in Bevagna, and began the drive to Civitella Marittima. We could have gone the easy way, but no, we decided we wanted the slower scenic view. We passed through some majestic places, but as usual when we're driving the backroads in Italy, it was stressful. At least for me. We got turned around multiple times again today, but between the GPS and the map, we made it in time for our check-in at Casina di Rosa.

You can see from the photos above that the fields have turned golden brown. I think these colors are so pretty. I wonder what the hills would look like in the green springtime, but I can't imagine they have the variety of shades that are there this time of year.

We checked into Casina di Rosa, and got to see first-hand the wonderful remodeling they have done. Last time we stayed here, we loved it, and I think it will be even better this time.

We were too tired to think about going to the grocery store or even finding a restaurant for dinner, so I unpacked some of the items I had bought to bring home. We had pasta with trufffle sauce, along with a nice bottle of wine that Gloria and Marcel had provided us with.

I'm not sure I'll be blogsging every day, but will keep in touch at least every few days. I think tomorrow we will visit Sienna. It's supposed to be a warm sunny day, much different than last time we were there when it was cold and rainy.


October 3, 2010

10-3-10 Siena

Today we visited Siena. When we were there in 2007, we spent one day in Siena and didn’t care for it. We had had a terrible time finding parking, and then it rained most of the time we were there, so we knew we needed to go back and see if our first impression was wrong.
It was a nice day, so perfect for Siena. We had a little trouble finding parking again, but eventually found a garage that worked out perfectly. It was close to escalators that go up into town so you don’t have to walk up an incline I can’t imagine.

This time we did really enjoy Siena. We did discover where all of the people that weren’t in Umbria were though. It was very busy and crowded here today. That did make me realize why I like the small villages. We bought a pass that allowed us in to many sights for only 10E.

We first went to the Duomo. I was so happy to see that the beautiful mosaic tile floors were uncovered again. It was hard to get photos that didn’t have a lot of glare on them, but I managed some.
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Among other areas we visited was also Santa Maria della Scala. The ceilings here were amazing.
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We had gelato before lunch. I can't believe this is the only 2nd time we've had it in over a week. This place, which I don't remember the name, was really good. We both had a chocolate truffle and I had pistachio and Scott had tiramisu.
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For lunch, we hunted up Tattoria La Tellina, a tratorria that my friend Bonnie in Alaska sent me to. We had a nice lunch, and visited a little with Concetta, the owner.
We started with an Antipasto Misto.
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Next I had a pici with a simple tomato sauce.
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Scott had a Porcini Mushroom Risotto.

All of the food was good, but not the best I’d eaten. My pici was cooked too soft. With a half litre of house wine and a bottle of water, the total was 36.50E.

After a long walk to the train station to purchase tickets from Grosetto to Rome next Saturday, we took the bus back into the center of town. We went through a few more places (Crypt, etc.), we only purchased a few things today. I bought a couple of Panforte, the Sienese specialty, and a bottle of Brunello wine. I also picked up a jar of Tomato and Garlic sauce, and we had a simple dinner tonight of pasta with the sauce and the nice Brunello.
I’m not sure where we’re going tomorrow, but hopefully you’ll find out tomorrow night.

October 4, 2010

10-4-10 Drive to the Coast and a Wonderful Dinner

Today we knew it was most likely going to rain, so we planned on an activity where we would be inside most of the time. That was driving from Civitella Marittima south along the coast to Porta Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole.

We drove this same drive in 2007, and on that day it was a beautiful sunny day. That type of a day makes the drive a lot prettier. Today the drive was nice, but when it’s pouring rain part of the time, it’s not the same.

Here are some photos of Porto Santo Stephano and the drive up high around the area. Last visit the port here was full of yahcts, but not so this time. I guess the season is over.
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Continue reading "10-4-10 Drive to the Coast and a Wonderful Dinner" »

October 6, 2010

10-5-10 Montalcino

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Yesterday we went to Montalcino. I was too tired to blog last night, so let’s see if I can remember how the day went. We started out with a cloudy day, and before we got to Montalcino, it was absolutely pouring. We had to find a place to pull off the road, because you couldn’t see anything. Luckily, that downpour didn’t last too long, and it just turned into a lighter rain.
When we visited Montalcino in 2007, we had lunch at Il Moro, a ristorante which I’d read serves mainly locals. We decided to eat here again, since we had such a good meal last time. Part of the thing that made our meal so nice last time was the atmoshphere. We were seated on a very small deck off the back of the restaurant, and enjoyed a great meal with a great view. This time, we had to sit inside, as it was raining.
I started with pici with ragu sauce, and Scott started with Paparadella with Chingiale(wild boar) sauce.
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For my secondi, I had Guinea Fowl in Vin Santo, and Scott had Rabbit in Brunello wine sauce. 10-5-10%20Lunch%20in%20Montalcino-Il%20Moro%20Guniea%20Fowl%20in%20Vin%20Santa.jpg
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The food was very good, but not as good as we remembered last time. The biggest disappointment was in dessert. Scott ordered Tiramisu, and it wasn’t home made. It was previously frozen, still mainly frozen, and not very good. Oh, well. Again, I think the idealistic setting had a lot last time with how perfect a meal it was.

With 2 primis, 2 secondi, and a ½ liter of house wine,and 1 dolci, the total was 43euros.
After lunch, we enjoyed the town of Montalcino. My only disappointment was not finding the shop where I bought some pottery last time. I made the mistake of not trying to find an old receipt and getting an address, and as we wondered through town we never found the store. I don’t know if he was off the beaten path and we just didn’t see him, or if he’s no longer in business, I just know that I’m not able to match what I have with a few additional pieces I would have really liked.

I can’t hardly keep my eyes open tonight, so I’ll try to blog in the morning about our day today, which was in Pienza.

October 7, 2010

10-6-10 Monte Oliveto Maggiore and Pienza

Yesterday we went to Monte Oliveto Maggiore abby and to Pienza. I’m behind on my blogging, and it’s hard to remember all of the wonderful things we’re seeing from day to day, but I’ll try.
On our drive there, we had an amazing experience. We saw a hillside of sheep, and decided to pull over to take some photos. As soon as we stopped we heard the hundreds of bells. All of those sheep had bells on, and with every movement they rang. Even across the large hillside and quite a distance from us, you could hear the choir of bells. I could have set there all day listening to them. It was a very special experience.
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We arrived at Monte Oliveto Maggiore only ½ hour before closing time. That meant that we had very little time to look at the famous fresco cycle. After a too quick glance, we headed for the cantina to taste the wine they make there. We tasted the red, and didn’t care much for it. We then went to the shop where they sell other goodies they produce there at the abbey. I purchased more farro and ceci beans (why am I buying all of these beans and grains???). I also bought some flavored honey, and 2 liquors-Grappa e Frutti di Bosco and Flora di MonteOliveto. Luckily, they had these in small sized bottles.

Next, we continued on to Pienza. We arrived about lunchtime, and decided to eat at Ristorante Dal Falco. I had read several good reviews. We were able to get a table outside, so that was very nice on a sunny day.
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We started off with an appetizer of Pecorino and assorted meats from the Crete Sienese pig. And an order of Bruschetta with Pomodori.
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Next, Scott had the gnocchi with truffle sauce. It was not good. The gnocchi were good, but the sauce was not. We never could put our finger on what was wrong with it.
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I had a pici pasta with what was supposed to be chingiale sauce, but was just a meat ragu. It was good though.
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With 2 antipasti, 2 primi, ½ liter of house wine and water, the total was 40.50 Euro.

Next, we waddled (oops, I mean walked) our way around the town. We were on a mission to buy Pecorino cheese to bring home. The first shop we went in was extremely busy, and there was no way we were going to get any help from the one man working there. We went to a different shop, and ended up with 3 cheeses. The first was a 2 kg Pecorino Vecchio. The second was a 1.5 kg round of Pecorino Semi-Stragionato. And the third was a small Ricotta Salata. I’ve never tasted Ricotta Salata. I’ve tried to buy it before, but never had any luck in finding it. So another addition to my cheeses.
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My only other purchases were 3 bars of fragrant soap.

After arriving back home, we knew we were going to eat dinner at Locanda Nel Cassero again. I had been dreaming of the pumpkin potato gnocchi with truffle sauce that Scott had a few nights earlier. I started with a terrine of pheasant and chicken. It was served on a bed of greens and had various mushrooms on top. All served cold. It was very good, and different than things I had been eating, which was a positive thing.
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Scott started with the Lasagnette with mushrooms. It also was heavenly. Rich bechamel sauce, cheesey, mushrooms, all between layers of homemade pasta. Then placed in the oven to make the top brown and the edges crispy.
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My next course was the gnocchi, and Scott had the Rabbit that I had a few nights ago. Scott had dessert, an interesting cheesecake. Not dense at all, graham-cracker type crust, and not too sweet. Served with some type of sauce-maybe fig, that was very sweet and paired perfectly with it. Another bottle of wine. It was another night of going to bed being absolutely stuffed.

10-7-10 Montepulciano

Yesterday I woke up with one thought-I’m actually tired of food. And wine. My stomach is now pulsating-in, out, in, out. It gets bigger with each meal, then shrinks a little as I sleep. The problem is that it isn’t shrinking back to it’s original size, but slowing finding a new “normal” to start from. But unfortunately, I knew this feeling of being tired of food and wine would only last until I saw the next menu. And I was right.

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Yesterday was another beautiful day. Sunny skies, with enough of a breeze to keep it from getting too warm. Our plan was to visit Montipulciano. We got a rather late start, and arrived in Montepulciano in time for lunch. When we were there in 2007, we visited there, but neither of us remembered it except for climbing the tower.

I really liked this town this visit. It’s large enough to see a variety of things-areas busy with tourists, but also winding narrow alleys with no one around.

Continue reading "10-7-10 Montepulciano" »

October 12, 2010

10/8/10 Sorano, Sovana, and Pitigliano

I've gotten really behind on blogging. I just got where it felt like a chore and I just couldn't do it. Tonight, I'm sitting in our apartment in Paris, and I'm going to try to get caught up. It's hard to blog about a Italy when we're now in France.

On the 8th, we drove to the area of Sorano, Sovana, and Pitigliano. The first town we visited was Sorono.

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My guidebook mentioned that this is an area where there are a lot of caves and tombs cut into the tufa hillside. We only visited part of the village. We walked around an old castle area. It was quite interesting.

Continue reading "10/8/10 Sorano, Sovana, and Pitigliano" »

Casina di Rosa 10-2-10 to 10-9-10

For our week in Tuscany, we stayed at Casina di Rosa. This is owned by Gloria and Marcel, and it's a wonderful house to rent.

This was our second stay here. We like how centrally it's located. It's in the small village of Civitella Marittima, but it is just off the highway. This makes it very easy to get to Sienna, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and the southern areas of Pitiliano, etc. Also other areas, including the coastal areas of the Maremma. Here's a view of the surrounding area from the village.

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The house is a small house that recently has had some renovations done to it. We loved the house before, and it's even better now. The kitchen is completely new.

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One of the great things about this rental is that Gloria and Marcel have provided everything you could want for your stay there. There's also a fireplace in the kitchen. We've never used it, but it works well. The bedroom now has a sitting area at one end.

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I like that you have two separate areas, because if one person stays up later or gets up earlier, the other can stay in the kitchen area without disturbing the other person.

The village has a couple of bars, bakeries, groceries, a butcher, and a fresh pasta store. And Paganico is only a 10 minute drive away if you want a large grocery store.

10-10-10 Rome

The day in Rome was our last one in Italy. We knew 1 day in Rome wouldn't be much, but other than Paris, we were trying to visit smaller places this visit. We spent the day just walking around Rome and looking at the sites. We didn't go inside anything. We were suprised at how many tourists seemed to be there. In the other places in Italy we had visited, tourist season was about over. Here,it was mobs of people everywhere. We tried to go into the Pantheon, and it was so crowed we decided not even to completely go inside.

We stayed at a B&B that was a very short distance to the Colleseum. It was a perfect location. We spent quite a bit of time enjoying the sunshine in Piazza Novona.

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We enjoyed a half bottle of wine, then decided to stay and have lunch. Again, can't remember the name of the restaurant, and my notes are not accessible right now. We started with an order of proscuitto and melon.

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Then I had spaghetti with clams.

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Scott had a combination plate of lasagne and torellini.

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It was a great location for people-watching. One of the funniest things to us is how bundled up Italians dress, even when it's not very cold out. I ended up in tank top by the end of the day, but I saw people in down coats!

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Scott also found a car that he'd really like to have. Do you think it's the right size for him?

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It was interesting to see the Colosseum both at day, and at night. I figured it would be lit up at night, but didn't expect the lights to be red.

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We really enjoyed our time in Italy, and we're now in Paris, so I'll begin blogging about that tomorrow.

October 14, 2010

10-11-10 Paris

On 11/11/10, we left Italy and flew to Paris. We had no problems at the airport. We have business class seats, and went through the security line for business/first class. There was not one person in line. I kept thinking we would have to go through another security line, but no, that was it. We got to the airport too early, so we walked around a little then went the lounge for a while. Our flight was very nice. It's funny I've read a lot of people who really dislike Air France. We've never had anything but very positive experiences with them.

We arrived in Paris, and had hired a car service through A.L.C.S. to pick us up. We got our luggage, gave them a quick call, and our driver was there in less than 10 minutes. How easy that was. We got to our apartment, and the owner showed us around. On first inspection, what you really notice is how small it is. I'll write more about it later, but we've really enjoyed staying here. It has everything we could want, and for how small it is, has tons of storage. And a very large shower. And it's something like 65 euro/night.

We walked around the neighborhood a little, and were very hungry for dinner. At most of the brasseries, trattories, bars, etc., not one person was eating at 7:30pm. We spotted an Indian restaurant where someone was there eating, so we decided to go there for our first night in Paris. Not Parisian food, but it was actually very good. Then it was back to the apartment for a good night's sleep.

10-12-10 Paris

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10-12-10 was our first full day in Paris. We slept in a little, and then slowly got around and ready to go out for the day. We didn't take the Metro the first day-I don't remember why. We walked quite a ways to the Louvre, and spent the morning walking around that area. The Louvre was closed, so no visits there (yet). We spent a little time in Jardin Des Tuileries. It was a cool, but very pretty day and it was nice to sit in the sunhine.

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We also wandered around the banks of the Seine River.

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I had won through Menu for Hope a Wine Tasting/Cheese lunch at O Chateau. When we arrived, we found out there were supposed to be at least 12 people, but there was only us and one other couple. There are some protests going on here, and many people can get caught up in the transportion problems. Our class was led by a very nice gentleman whose name I don't remember. He has a varied background-wine merchant, wine maker, and I don't remember what else. He was very knowledgeable, and as we tasted, discussed the wines from various regions. I didn't know much about French wine, but I feel very comfortable now being able to go into a wine shop and pick out a French wine. If you are looking for a good wine class in Paris, I would recommend this one.

We walked around a little more, then it was a walk back to our apartment. We were too tired to think about going out to dinner, so we went to the small store across the street from us, and got some provisions. I cooked a stir-fry of potatoes, onion, red pepper, and zucchini and poached eggs on top. We also got a baguette from the neighborhood bakery, and enjoyed it with a bottle of Alsace Reissling.

10-13-10 Paris - Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower

On the 13th, we had one reservation. That was for the Eiffel Tower. Our reservations were scheduled for 6pm. We started out the day going to the Arc de Triomphe. It was much largert than I anticipated. We were planning on going up to the top, which meant walking 284 steps to the top. I have to say I wasn't looking forward to that, but it didn't matter-the inside was closed. There have been strikes this week. The people of Paris have been demonstrating against the government trying to raise the age for retirement. They're trying to raise it to 62, I believe from the current age of 60. During the strikes, certain rail lines, flights, etc. and some sites have been closed. On this day or the previous day, we never saw the demonstrations even though we heard they wrecked havoc on certain parts of town. So anyway, we enjoyed our views from the bottom, and then headed for a stroll down Champs-Elysees.

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The Champs-Elysee, which is still very nice, evidently isn't quite what it used to be. A lot of chain stores of lesser quality (or price, really) have come in. There's a McDonalds, a Swatch Watch sore, and I can't remember what other stores that suprised me. We stopped for lunch at a little bar on a side street off Champs-Elysee. Scott had a Croque Monsier (basically, a really good grilled ham and cheese sandwich), I had a Croque Madame (like a Croque Monsier with an egg on top), and we each had a glass of Sancerre white wine. The wine tasting class the day before came in handy, as I now recognized the wine list easier. Sorry, but you're not going to get too many photos of our food in Paris. For some reason, I feel uncomfortable here pulling out my camera to take photos of the food.

Next, we decided to head over to the Eiffel Tower. We knew our reservations weren't until 6pm, but we really were expecting the tower to be closed due to the strike. It was closed the day before, and with the Arc de Trimphe being closed, ...but when we got there we saw the lines of people and the elevators going to the top. So we took some photos, then walked around the neighborhood. We were quite tired, as we had been walking a lot this day, so we sat down at a corner bar for a glass of wine and to rest our feet. The waiter as a little short at the first, but then ended up being nice. We didn't have our camera out, but he came over and asked if we wanted our picutre taken. No escaping looking like tourists. We handed the camera over, and here's the photo we got:

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He had turned the camera the wrong way and had it pointed at himself! So he took another. Here it is-it isn't a good photo of me at all, as it looks as if my eyes are closed.

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We managed wasting away the time until our 6pm entry. If you visit the Eiffel Tower, be sure and make reservations in advance online. We had to wait in line for only about 5 minutes before going inside. The reservations are made in 30 minute increments, so for the 6:00 you can enter anytime between 6:00 and 6:30. We rode the elevator to the 2nd level, and were amazed at how enormous the tower is. The views from here were unending. You realize from this vantage point how large Paris really is. I made a mistake when I purchased the tickets online of only buying to the 2nd level, and not all of the way to the top. I sent an e-mail to them immediately after I purchased, and they said no worries, we could buy a supplement ticket to get to the next level. Well, that didn't happen. I don't know if it was because of the strike and fewer workers, but the ticket booth on the 2nd level was closed, and the area where the self-service ticket machines were was locked. Scott was very disappointed he wasn't able to go to the very top, but I didn't care. The views are better from the 2nd level because you're a little closer and can identify buildings and areas from here, but more than that, it was freezing up there! I can't imagine how cold it would have felt at the top. I was very happy to have my gloves with me. But with was still so cold, we decided not to wait around until it got dark. Our plans had been to book for 6:00, enjoy the views on the 1st and 2nd level, visit the top, and by that time it would begin getting dark and we could enjoy the views of the city in the dark. But comfort won out, and we had a cold walk back to the Metro station instead.

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For dinner that night, we went to a small neighborhood bar right across from where we're staying, called Le Bistro. I had Bavette a l"echaolte, frites maison, salade. This was a thin beef steak with an onion sauce, french fries, and a salad. Although the meat wasn't very tender, it wasn't too tough and the flavor was really good, so I enjoyed mine. Scott had Faux filet, sauce au bleu d'Auvergne, pommes de terre sautees, poelee de legumes. His was a different cut of beef than mine, and was very tough. He didn't enjoy it. His came with a nice sauce, wonderful sauteed potatoes, and some vegetables.I don't remember the price, but it was in the range of 38 euros with 2 glasses of wine. And no food photos today.

October 19, 2010

10-14-10 Paris - Marche de la Bastille Market, Pastry/Chocolate Tour, and Notre Dame

I'm back home in Alaska now, and trying to finish posting about our last days in Paris. I've learned that if you get behind, it's hard to remember the specifics, so hopefully I can remember enough to make this post interesting.

I wanted to go to an outdoor market while in Paris. I found a listing of some markets, and there was one being held on Thursday-Marche de la Bastille. It was a large, fun market to go to. There was a large variety of things being sold. You had your typical market stalls selling clothing, household goods, etc. There were also wonderful fruit & vegetable stands, meat stands, fish markets, cheese, etc.

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One thing that I was so amazed by was the care in the way the vendors set up their produce. The visual appeal of the display really makes you want to buy their goods.

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There was also a crepe stand set up at the market. Scott had a crepe filled with a caramel, and I had a savory filled with goat cheese, tomatoes, and a few other things I can't remember.

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That afternoon, we had made reservations to do a Chocolate/Pastry Tour through Meet the Parisians. The tour was 3 hours long, and only ended up being me and Scott. We were led through a variety of stores, almost all high-end. Some of these I might have been a little intimidated at going into on my own, so this was a perfect introduction to them. The tour is in the St. Germain-des-Pres district. We started at La Maison de Chocolate, where we each got to choose 2 chocolates and split a chocolate eclair. Great way to start off the tour. We next went to Poilane Boulangerie.

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Beautiful breads, but a very small store. Actually, that was the case with many of these. I was also hoping to see some of the chocolates or breads being made, but I think all of the locations we went to were just store fronts, and the products were made elsewhere. After Poilane, we visited Patrick Roger Boutique. He is described as a sculptor of flavours, and had some wonderful chocolates. We purchased a box of these to bring home. Also some of his wonderful caramels, some of the flavors of which are chocolate, lime, cassis, and salted butter. This photo doesn't do the shop justice, but it was a very streamlined shop.

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We next visited Gerard Mulot.This was a store that carried a huge selection of things. We were too full to taste anything, but I did bring home some delicious fruit gelees. Not only did they carry beautiful pastries, but also savories that looked like they were too good to eat.

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The list of stores we visited continues to grow. We next went to Pierre Marcolini. This is a Belgium chocolate maker. Again, wonderful chocolates, and we had to bring home a box of these also. We stopped in a store that had just opened in Paris next- Weiss. I thought their store was beautiful-done in a light lavender and I think a brown. Last, we went to Pierre Herme. Here we got to choose a macaroon to try. I had the cassis chocolate and Scott had the creme brulee, and we now know why many think his macaroons are the best in Paris.

In between our visits to the shops, our guide also told us about the neighborhood and also took us through a beautiful cathedral. It was a tour I would recommend to anyone.

After our tour, we decided to visit Notre Dame. I really didn't know what to expect, and was overwhelmed. I had no idea this church was so large. And the stained glass windows were exquisite.

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That evening, we ate at a neighborhood brassiere. I forgot the name, but the food was excellent. My photos didn't turn out well, so I'm going to bother to show them. I started out with escargot with a pesto sauce, and Scott started with fried calamari. My main was scallops served with some type of a cream sauce and rice. I wanted to lick the plate clean. Scott had duck breast, a nice sauce, and frites.

One other thing I forgot to mention we saw today-demonstrations. You've probably seen it on the news by now, but France is trying to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, and people are demonstrating and striking. The day we passed one of the demonstrations, it was a much smaller group of students. I'm glad we left when we did though-the demonstrations are turning more violent and the stikes are beginning to affect flights more.

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October 20, 2010

10-15-10 Paris - Rue Montorgueil and the Louvre

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I'm finishing my blogging about our trip by writing today about our last day in Paris. I have followed the blog of David Lebovitz for quite some time, and enjoy his humor and knowledge. He did a writeup on an area called Rue Montorgueil that sounded very intriguing to me, so that's what we went last Friday.

This street is mainly closed to vehicles(delivery vehicles are allowed), so it's a pleasant place to walk. This street and surrounding streets are filled with great food shops, kitchenware stores, bakeries, cheese shops, etc.

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I first visited G Detou, a baking supply store. Not only do they have a huge supply of baking items, but they also carry a lot of other French specialty foods. I visited the shop twice that day, and my poor husband decided he best wait for me outside. I came away with a huge haul from this store - two different types of Dijon mustards, Cassis gelee, Candied Rose Petal Confit, Eggplant confiture, Fois Gras, Mousse as Foie de Canard, Vanilla Beans, wonderul boules for decorating cakes/cookies-silver, rose, and violette, candied violets, colored sugars in red, green, silver, and while, a 1000g box of candied orange peel, and a 6 lb bag of Valhrona 61% extra-bitter chocolate. Can you see why I brought empty suitcases with me? I also visited MOra, a pastry supply store, but didn't buy anything there. I bought some treats for a friend at A la Mere de Famille, which is the oldest confectionery shop in Paris (by the way, their packaging was all in orange for Halloween, the only place I saw this). We purchased a variety of cheese for dinner that evening, and some financiers at Kayser bakery.

Then it was time for lunch. After reading David's description of the fried potatoes and duck confit at Bistrot des Petits Carreaux, I just had to eat there. The people there were very nice, the servings huge, and the prices very fair. On top of this, the food was fabulous. Scott had Beef Bourginon, and he thought it was one of the best things he ate on our entire vacation.

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I had the Duck Confit with those fabulous fried potatoes. I came close to finishing my entire plate of food, and felt I could hardly move to leave the restaurant.

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Because of all of the purchases I made, we had to return to our apartment to drop off the goods.

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Then back to the Metro to head to the Louvre.

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One suggestion I would make-visit the Louvre in the morning when you're not tired. It is huge, and no way will you see it all, but even choosing only certain areas to see, it's still very tiring.
We started off by seeing the Mona LIsa.

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Then it was the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

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Next was the Venus de Milo.

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After looking at other areas we were interested in, we finished in the Egyptian area. I wish I hadn't been so tired, because this area was fascinating.

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We had a wonderful time in Paris, and I think we'll most likely be visiting again. Hopefully this time for at least 2 weeks so we can enjoy more the city has to offer.

April 23, 2012

Paris 4-20-2012

Today we started our day by going to Sainte-Chapelle. If you're not familiar with Sainte-Chapelle, it's a beautiful cathedral with amazing stained glass windows. It was built in 1248 for King Louis IX. There are 15 panels of stained glass, each who's scene tells a different story. The lines are long to get into this cathedral, even if you have a museum pass. It doesn't take very long to go through the cathedral either, but it is well worth the wait you may have.

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After leaving Sainte Chapelle, we went to the Conciergerie next door. This was a prison where 2780 victims were guillontined, including Marie-Antoinette. When you first walk into the building, you are in the massive Hall of Men-at Arms. I thought the architecture was amazing.

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Inside this reoom are 4 huge fireplaces. I stood inside one of them so you could see how large they are.

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After this, we went to Les Invalides church. Here, we toured the military museums and saw the tomb of Napleon.

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I don't particularly care for military museums, but this one was very interesting. My favorite parts were the displays of armour. It was amazing. I have no idea where they could have found that much armour.

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Napoleon's Tomb was quite elaborate. His tomb lies under a golden dome.

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I tend to get very tired in museums, as all of the standing is very difficult on my back. And even though that was the case today, we saw some wonderful places that I really enjoyed.

April 29, 2012

Paris 4-21-2-12

I'm back home now and trying to catch up on my blog. When you're on vacation for almost 3 weeks, seeing lots of new sights, you tend to forget a lot of what you did and saw. That's why it's important for me to finish blogging about our trip, to help me remember. But since I didn't do this part while I was there, I've already forgotten a lot. So I'll do my best to remember what we saw and did, but you might find some of the upcoming blog posts a little less informative than in the past.

Today, we went to the Musee d'Orsay in the morning. This museum is housed in an old railway station. It's a beautiful building and it adds a lot to the experience of this museum. Photos are not allowed to be taken in this museum, so unfortunately, I'll not be able to show you any of what we saw. This museum has great collections of Impressionist works. Let's just say I got to see some really special works from Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gough, and Cezanne.

After we left this museum, we walked through the Tuileries Garden on our way to the Orangerie museum. Here's a photo of the carousel that's in the garden.

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We then went through the Orangerie Museum, where I was extremely moved by the sight of Monet's Water Lilies. The paintings are stunning in the setting where they're located. I feel very blessed to have seen them.

After here, we decided we'd go walk up the Champs-Elysees. It was very crowded. We continued walking until we got to the Arc de Triomphe. Scott really wanted to walk the stairs to the top so we could look out onto the city. I was tired and really not feeling like it, but I did it anyway and it wasn't such a bad climb (234 steps), and the views were outstanding. You can see that the threat of rain was very much on our minds that day.

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And here is all of those stairs.

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Paris 4-22-2012

Today was a busy day. We took the train to Versailles. We got a later start than we planned, and it was sure crowded when we got there. We had our museum passes, which allow us not to have to stand in line to purchase tickets. There was a huge line out front, and unfortunately, that was the line you had to wait in to go inside, even those with The Museum Pass. Luckily, the line moved rather quickly.

Here is a picture of Scott and me in front of the Chateau.

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We visited the main palace first. It was so crowded, and while beautiful, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I've seen a lot of beautiful palaces in Italy, but I think the main thing for me is that at this point in our trip, I was just tired of crowds. Pushy, unkind people trying to get a better view and not caring if they pushed you out of the way to get it. So we went through the Chateau rather quickly. Here's a couple of photos. It was posted that photos were not allowed, but there were guards all around and they never kept one person from taking them, so I decided it was okay.

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We were tired after viewing the Chateau, and we were hungry, as it was now lunch time. We decided to have lunch at Angelina, a restaurant right in the Versailles Chateau.

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I had a salad with Fois Gras. It was good. Scott had the quiche, which was over-cooked and way too expensive for the quantity he got, but oh well. We each had a nice glass of wine, we were sitting down, and we were away from the mobs of people for a while.

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We had to splurge on dessert, and I'm very glad we did as they were excellent. Scott's was a coffe and milk chocolate tart which was luscious!

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MIne was a chocolate and raspberry tart which was also very good, but very rich.

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After lunch, we decided to visit the gardens. You have to pay an additional 8 euros to get in, as the museum pass doesn't include them. It was very well worth it. The gardens are so vast. I'm not sure how many acres they were, but they seemed to go on and on. I never saw one gardener, and I'm not sure how they can keep everything so groomed. There were some beautiful flowers in bloom, and the fountains and music were playing while we were there.

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We next walked to the Domaine de Marie-Antoinette. Here's a few photos of where she spent her time and the gardens there.

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Some sheep from the farm. I love sheep and goats!

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That evening, even though we were tired and it was threatening to rain, we finally got around to going to see the Eiffel Tower lite up at night. It was the highlight of my trip, even though it absolutely poured down on us while we were waiting for the flashing lights to start.

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The flashing lights go off for 5 minutes on the top of the hour after it gets dark out. Here's a link to the video Scott took of them.

http://www.facebook.com/?sk=lf#!/photo.php?v=3753859402684&set=vb.1162403786&type=2&theater


May 6, 2012

Paris 4-23-2012

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Michelangelo's Dying Slave


Today was our second to last day in Paris. We decided to go to the Louvre in the morning. We came across an entrance to the Louvre where our Museum Pass got us right in the door without waiting in any lines. I was so glad to have that Museum Pass, because when you got past that entrance, throughout the day we saw huge lines of people waiting to get inside. I don't know if April is always a lot busier than October, but last time we were here, although it was crowded, it wasn't nearly as crowded as it was this visit. And unfortunately, we were both at a point in our trip where we were really tired of crowds. So we didn't stay but a couple of hours at the Louvre this trip. I love sculpture, and that was the area where we spent our time this visit.

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Michelangelo's Rebellious Slave

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After we left the Louvre, Scott really wanted to go to the National Maritime Museum. So we took the Metro over and had a quick visit. If you're interested in maritime, ship models, etc. you would enjoy this museum. That's not my thing, but I did enjoy looking around for a bit. That's an advantage of having the Museum Pass, because you can get into the museums without paying, and you don't feel guilty if you just stop in for a quick look.

Below is a photo of a boat that was built for Napoleon.

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This last photo is from the front of a boat, but I don't remember which one. You can see the incredible beauty that these boats had and the detail that went into them.

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That evening, I had made reservations for us at Le Verre Vole. This is a wine bar that was just a 5 or 10 minute walk from our apartment. It is in the Canal Saint Martin area, an area that is supposed to be an upcoming and hip neighborhood. I had read that they spoke English there, but only one of the staff that night did, and not very well. You've got to make reservations here. It's a tiny place, and is very busy. I tried to make reservations for 8:30, and was told I could have 8:00 and we had to leave by 10:00. I hadn't heard of anywhere else giving you a time frame like that. (Or at least that's what I thought he said during our phone conversation that was hard to understand. Who knows, maybe he told me I could have a table at 8:00 or 10:00.)

They are a wine shop also, so you could choose a wine from their shelves and pay a 7 euro corkage fee, or they had 6 or 7 choices of wines by the glass. We chose to just order by the glass. I started off with a fish soup, which was a thin flavorful tomato broth with little clams. (Sorry, no photos. For some reason I didn't take any). I had a glass of white wine to accompany my starter. It was a strange color-very golden, but tasted very good. I'm not sure if it was that dark color because it was unfiltered and they only sell natural wines there or what. Scott had some type of a veal dish with a vinegar sauce that was served cold and was very flavorful. For my main, I had a sausage that contained some type of ground meat and swiss chard. They brought you Dijon mustard to put on it. It was good, and there was a huge portion, 2 large meatballs and some delicious potatoes. Scott had a pork dish, but I don't remember what it was. This is why I take the time to blog daily (okay, most days) while on vacation, because otherwise there is just too much forgotten. For dessert I had a very good rice pudding that had a layer of something very tart, which I think was passion fruit. I wish I could remember the name of Scott's. It was a large plate that had unsweetened yogurt on it, then crumbled on top was a chocolate cake. Strange. He did not like it. He scooped the cake part up and ate it, but didn't like the unsweetened tart yogurt. It was a fun evening, and I would like to go back and try other things from their small menu.

Paris 4-24-2012

This was our last day in Paris. I wanted to spend the day just wandering around, enjoying a last view of the sights. One thing I had not done was eaten as many pastries that were listed on the blog Paris Patisseriesas I had wanted. So after starting the day doing a little advance packing, we began on our journey to find Jacques Genin where I planned on having a chocolate eclair. We had trouble finding it. I think we'd be a lot better off sometimes if we used a map and our instinct and skipped the Mapquest directions. By the time we found this chocolate shop and tea salon, it was pouring down rain. It was about lunch time, and we hadn't eaten, but we decided instead of lunch we'd sit down in their beautiful salon, dry out, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. I ordered a chocolate eclair and Scott ordered a caramel eclair. They were both great, but I enjoyed those couple of bites of Scott's that I managed to get him to give up more than I enjoyed mine.

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I also had Scott order a hot chocolate. I couldn't look like a pig, could I? I didn't order an extra cup at first, but can you see how thick this was? It was like melted chocolate with no milk or cream added. And it was very bittersweet, even though it looks quite sweet in the photo. Although we didn't use it, they even bring cubes of sugar to add if you'd like. There was no way he was going to be able to drink it all himself, so luckily I was able to share.

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Here are some photos of the beautiful interior of this salon.

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We didn't buy any chocolate here to take with us, but we bought some of their delicous caramels. The best were the mango passion fruit. They tasted like pure butter with the burst of fruit. I also had to have a little tin of pate de fruits. The flavors were all amazing, but the pineapple was the best.

After we had our fill of chocolate and the rain almost stopped, we decided to skip the Metro and walk over towards the Seine. It wasn't the best day for walking - very windy and raining off and on, sometimes downpours. But I wasn't going to sit in our apartment on our last day. Scott loves to look at boats, and he saw a spot where he could walk close to the houseboats that were docked along the Seine. I followed his wishes, and we walked along in the cold rain. The wide path we were on gave way to a very narrow path as we rounded a corner. I never saw any signs that said we shouldn't be there, but it did not look like any place we should (or would want) to be. Scott was convinced that if we kept walking, we would be just fine. I really expected to see the French police, not able to speak English, pull up alongside of us on the river with their guns pulled demanding what we were doing. Luckily, that never happened. My other fear was that we would come upon someone whom we didn't want to be close to when we were in such a vulnerable place. Luckily, we only saw the remnants of where people had been, but no actual humans were seen. As you can see in the photos I took later of the ledge we had been walking on, you have a steep wall on your left and a drop-off then the Seine river on your right.

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Can you even see that small ledge we were on? It looks quite small, doesn't it?

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As I was taking a photo after were were well away from there, I actually saw someone else walking along the ledge. It is a little wider here than in other parts, but maybe we weren't in an area that was as bad as I thought.

After deciding to keep walking, rather than turn around and go back the way we came, we eventually came to an area where we could walk up away from the river. I wasn't sure we could walk there at first since all I was able to see was a busy highway. But there was a path, and we walked up the path then across a bridge to the other side of the Seine. At that point, when I was still feeling a little wobbly-legged from the stress of thinking I was going to be thrown in jail, the weather decided to give us a powerful downpour. Wasn't that a nice way to say welcome back to civilization. We didn't know where we were at, but thought we knew what direction to walk, so we continued along and eventually came to a Metro station where we hopped on a train back to our apartment. An adventurous way to end our trip in Paris.

For dinner, I had made reservations at Les Bougresses, a bistro where we had eaten the previous week and really enjoyed. You can feel very comfortable here when you don't speak French, as at least one of the servers speaks English.

Here's a photo of Scott as he was ready to start his meal.

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Scott started with escargot and I started with a salad of melon and cured ham. Delicious.

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For his main, Scott had duck in a fig sauce. I had that the first time we were there, and it was very good. I decided to have stuffed vegetables. There was a potato, a red pepper, and zuchinni stuffed with a ground meat and rice mixture. All placed on a delicious meat "gravy". Very very good. I skipped dessert, but Scott had the profiteroles. It was a very nice way to spend our last evening in Paris.

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We decided that we wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower for one last view of the sparking tower before we left the next day. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it's just magical.

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That's our 2012 trip to Paris. I hope you enjoyed following along. I'm going to write up a blog entry about the apartment we rented, the transportation company we used to and from the airport, and other things like the benefits of a Museum Pass.

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Baked Alaska in the Travel category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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