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Europeans Rejoice! Mai Tai Returns From 17 Great Days.

Europeans Rejoice! Mai Tai Returns From 17 Great Days.

Oct 6th, 2003, 05:18 PM
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I knew this would be good one! And please, DON'T make it shorter!
Kay_M is offline  
Oct 6th, 2003, 05:21 PM
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Didn't the Germans get to see you in your speedo?
cigalechanta is offline  
Oct 6th, 2003, 06:03 PM
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Great report, maitaitom! Looking forward to the rest of your trip!

And welcome home to California - just in time to cast your vote!

jason888 is offline  
Oct 6th, 2003, 06:12 PM
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No no!! Not shorter!! I am loving this
Scarlett is offline  
Oct 6th, 2003, 11:47 PM
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Ja, ja, all this merrymaking with Deutsche volk is very well and good, but here's the important question: Did your iPod indeed convert voltage all by itself (with the help of a European plug adapter) or fry its little brains while trying to recharge?

*Rosenatti, who is leaving for Italy in one week, worriedly pets her 10GB iPod*
rosenatti is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 04:06 AM
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Oh Tom, I wanna travel with YOU guys!! LOL.....this is great so far, can't wait to read the rest!!
BrimhamRocks is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 06:27 AM
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"Did your iPod indeed convert voltage all by itself (with the help of a European plug adapter) or fry its little brains while trying to recharge?"

I bought a Worldwide adapter at the Apple Store and recharged the IPOD in Italy. No problem. I listened for about seven hours on the way home while sipping red wine. Have fun, and good listening.
maitaitom is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 08:54 AM
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In reference to your comments about the martini's - I always thought that one was not enough - two were too many - three were just right!
JoeG is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 09:12 AM
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Welcome back, mtt. Glad to hear you liked Beilstein 9what there is of it) and Haus Lipmann. We had 3 pleasant evenings there that were about as enjoyable as any on our trip.

What happened next?
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 11:34 AM
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Can't wait to hear more! Use as many words as you want - don't shorten by a syllable (is that how you spell it?)
(I like Beilstein and Haus Lipmann, too)
anotherjudy is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 11:37 AM
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Tom? Tom? I think Tom is out casting his vote!!!
wren is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 11:41 AM
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Welcome back, Tom.
ira is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 11:51 AM
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"What happened next?"

Sorry, I've had this damn hanging chad this morning that I can't get rid of.

DAY THREE & FOUR - Le Clos Saint-Vincent - Ribeauville

Tracy and I set off in our ugly blue car toward Alsace, viamichelin directions at the ready. We sped through some beautiful countryside in Germany and were only a few miles from the French border when we reached a town that is now verboten to speak in our family. The town is Sarrbrucken.

The directions were a little fuzzy as we drove through this maze of streets and traffic. No signs pointed out the direction that viamichelin had given us. Every ten minutes or so we found ourselves in the same spot as we had been previously.

Our voices began to rise to a level where I expected Richard Dawson to pop up in the back seat and yell, "Welcome to Family Feud." I stopped at the local Europecar facility. Surely they would know the road that heads toward Strasbourg. His answer was "nein."

The Talking Heads Song "We're on A Road To Nowhere" came into my head when Tracy yelled, "Make a right!" When the navigator talks, I listen. In a few minutes was the best sign we ever read. It said "France."

I put the pedal to the metal, got the Golf up to 160kmph, and we were screaming toward our destination. We got off the highway and about as fast as I could say gewurztaminer we were on the famed Routes des Vins in Alsace.

We passed charming village upon charming village. Rosheim looked like a quaint place, worth going back to on another visit. We stopped in Obernai to ostensibly grab a bite to eat, but we had come upon the dreaded 1:30 (or 13:30) hour, when restaurants and shops shut down faster than Courtney Love on heroin. Obernai was nice, but as we were to find out, it was not as charming as some other villages.

We got back in the car and drove through Dambach-la-Ville (very nice) and then came upon a little gem of a place.

In the tiny town of Itterswiller was a hotel that overlooked vineyards and, even more important, they had a patio restaurant that was open.

Tracy was concerned at first because the place was called the Hotel Arnold. "Will a muscular man come out and grope me," she asked? I think she was kidding.

The hotel and the inside restaurant looked great (we were later told the Hotel Arnold was a terific place to go for dinne - 30 Euro, four course dinner looked really terrific).

Next is something I will not hold against them, because I doubt this girl will have a job soon. There were three couples sitting at tables on the patio when we arrived. One couple had been served. The waitress had the expression of one of the women in The Stepford Wives. Not happy. Not sad. Just blank. I had never seen a human work this slowly.

After we sat down, the tables began filling, but this girl only worked tables one by one. If somebody ordered a cappuchino and sandwich, you waited while she made the cappuchino and sandwich and did not order until the previous table got served. Knowing we were next made this much funnier to us than it did the people who were tenth in line.

Well, we ate, had a glass of wine and left. In the interim, she had served only two other tables. I suspect the last people who came in that Saturday are being served sometime this afternoon.

We got to our Hotel, Le Clos Saint Vincent, after traveling through a few other beautiful towns. The hotel is situated in a vineyard overlooking Ribeauville, but you can see other hill towns from there. Great view.

We had heard they had a great restaurant, so we asked the guy at the front desk if we needed reservations. He said, "No. Just come anytime between 7:15 and 8:30 (2- course 33 Euros; 3-Course 41 Euros)." It was really hot, and the room had no air conditioning and really not much ventilation. Quoting my wife, "The room had Rob and Laura Petrie twin beds and the decor is probably the original from the 1960s. Hotel appears to be a hoity-toity (the girl can write) old person's place judging by the attitude of the staff. The tired conditions of rooms lacked any charm (she doesn't hold back, does she?)." Her final comment was the decor was "shabby chic."

Since it was only five, we explored Ribeauville for a couple of hours. Neat place, and a great base. Tracy bought a couple of table cloths with some fancy name that I don't remember (if anyone wants to know, I can find out. She said the prices were much less than home) Got back to the hotel and, after showering, went to te restaurant a little before 8pm. Enter the snotty French woman.

"Do you have reservations," she asked in a haughty, upper-crust tone.

"Non, Chambre neuf," I replied.

"Well you have to have a reservation," she said in snotty English. I don't know this for a fact, but it also seemed she had a stick stuck up her butt.

I politely told her the guy at the desk said we did not need them.

She huffed and puffed, we got in and the dinner was fantastic, especially the creme brulle at dessert. The waiter and waitress were very friendly, and the guy was really helpful about exploring the area (he was the one who told us about the Hotel Arnold and how good the food is there, too. Unforunately it was closed the next night and kind of a long drive after some wine drinking.)

We went to bed in a hot, stuffy bedroom. There was no window only a door with wooden shutters. We opened the shutters, latched them and kept the door open. We figured since the rest of the guests had a lot more money than we did, we would not be robbed. It was very quiet, so we slept great.

The next day: A cool castle, a close encounter with a tour bus, a few great towns on the Routes des Vins, and our choice for the most overrated place since Aix.

maitaitom is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:08 PM
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Lol! I was quite the Courtney Love fan as a teenager, I never expected to see her mentioned on this forum! And used as a metaphor, no less!
Kay_M is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:11 PM
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Up early on Sunday morning. Another perfectly blue, sky sunny (and hot) day. We were off to see Haut-Koenigsbourg, the "most visited place in Alsace." A beautiful drive through the Vosges Mountain range. We parked below, and took the 15 minute hike to the castle.

We lucked out because on this particular day it was free to get in. We bought the headphones with English translation and toured the castle for about an hour. It was fun and informative.

We drove back to the Routes des Vins for the southern swing. Our first stop was Riquewihr. This is a beautiful, yet touristy (some might say too touristy for its own good), town. It was quite crowded, but Tracy and I liked it a lot. We walked around for about 45 minutes and bought some orange macaroons (the Atkins Diet was not going well on this trip).

We thought about having lunch in Colmar, so we made the short drive to (if you are a Colmar lover, please skip the next few paragraphs) a town whose charm eluded my wife and me.

To digress a bit, I first saw Colmar in 1984 with my first wife (yeah, I know. It's hard to believe I have gotten two women to marry me)

First of all, Colmar is not small, not quaint and really not pretty. We got to the city center and meandered to little Venice (or Petit Venise). My thought: real Venice should sue for defamation of character. Petit Venise was pretty drab. We saw the hotel where we almost stayed, the Marechal. We thought about eating there until we saw the menu and prices.
maitaitom is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:11 PM
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Very enjoyable rpt Tom.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:13 PM
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Maitai..You are so Funny!!
kismetchimera is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:30 PM
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Damnit, I hit that post button again. I have to start drinking.

Anyway, my first wife and I did not like Colmar then, but I chalked it up to being young and not knowing the nuances of Europe (of course, as it turned out, she liked me about as much as Colmar in a few years).

Well, Tracy and I didn't like it either, and I truly find it not charming at all, especially with all the other beautiful towns dotting the Routes des Vins. The rickety boats cruising the faux canal looked like they would sink at any moment, and the whole place was rather depressing.

If you do like Colmar, I don't mean to rain on your parade because everyone is different.

We shot the Golf back to Riquewihr via Kayserberg. Another cool little town with a medievil setting and a castle on a hill.

Back to Riquewihr. We were there at the non-eating hour of 13:45, but we found the Au Vieux Riquewihr restaurant doing a booming business. Got an outside table perfect for people watching.

Tracy had a delicious Quiche Lorrain with a big green salad, while I dined on the curious pairing of escargot and pommes frites (maybe I'm pregnant, I thought). Oh yeah, we had beer and champagne, too, since it was 2 o'clock, meaining it was 5 o'clock in L.A. (no matter that it was 5 o'clock in the morning).

Then we shopped at bit at The Christmas Store (I think it's the same name as the one in Rothenburg, Germany, but I could be wrong). We bought some Christmas decorations. I dragged Tracy from the store before she overextended the budget (which I actually did later in the trip).

We stopped at one more little town on our way back to our hotel. I think it was called Huhawihr (I'll look it up later). Another neat little town that was not touristy. A group of locals was at the neighborhood restaurant drinking wine and shooting the breeze.

In late afternoon, early evening we cruised Ribeauville again. I bought a bottle of wine that we lugged through Europe until we finally drank it on our last day in Milan. Thank God it was good.

Another digression, throughout Alsace they have these cool nests on tall platforms where pelicans (the symbol of Alsace) hang out. We loved 'em.

The tablecloth guy had recommended Le Caveau Stebola La Brassiere for dinner in Ribeauville. I had a great meal of steak with chanterelle (spelling kids) and pommes frites (just can't get enough of them fries).

Tracy had a veal cordon bleu that was not as exciting. What was exciting, however, was the dessert of chocolate au gateau with creme anglaise, whipped cream and gooseberry garnish (I just gained five pounds writing that). It was unbelieveable, and won Tom & Tracy's Best Dessert of the Trip Award (an award coveted by chefs around the world.)

Two days in France had ended, but tomorrow we would wake up and drive to Switzerland. As I fell asleep, I wondered, "when driving in Switzerland, must you keep your car in Neutral (it was the kir royale that made me think a stupid comment like that)?"

Tomorrow: On to Montreux and one of my all time favorite castles, a very nice hotel, but (alas) another disappointing town. Stay tuned.

maitaitom is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:44 PM
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Not pelicans but storks.
Michael is offline  
Oct 7th, 2003, 12:58 PM
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"Not pelicans but storks."

After a few bottles of wine, they looked like pelicans, though. Thanks for setting me straight.

maitaitom is offline  

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