RHK's heading to Europe

Old May 14th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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you are going to the manures?
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Old May 15th, 2013, 12:39 AM
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the hills of var
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Old May 21st, 2013, 08:52 AM
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back from the hills of var, and now in vence for the night before our flight home tomorrow from nice via london...

we had a fantastic time in the village of collobrieres up in the maures west of st tropez.. this village of 1800 is so tranquil and relaxing. time has almost stood still for it.

after i get home i will write a bit more to fill in the blanks of the last 2 weeks.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 08:53 PM
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About time you checked in. Waiting a long time for those chocolate croissants.
Waiting for the rest of the story.....
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 08:50 AM
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don't push me
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Old May 24th, 2013, 05:54 AM
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Did you at least get me a carrot cake cupcake and some butter cookies at Hazel's bakery this morning?
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Old May 24th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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your fans are waiting...
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Old May 26th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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Hi Bob and Karen: " always leave 'em laughing."

I'm still chuckling over your "ambousse". -Finally figured out you meant "amuse bouche". which any ordinary Fodorite would know, but we know you are spelling impaired, and wouldn't want it any other way! It's part of the Kimball charm - well, that and Karen!

Strange and wonderful report so far.....but:

What is all this about an RTW trip? Would love to know more.

Come home safe - pick up some more French words so we can ROTFLOL.
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Old May 26th, 2013, 03:44 PM
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thinking about an around the world flight for our 70th birthdays next year or for our 50th anniversary...

ROTFLOL---still chewing this one..

how is the elephant??
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Old May 26th, 2013, 03:45 PM
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hope to get to some writings tomorrow...
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Old May 26th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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I'm as bad as you pronouncing French.
One year we stayed in Arls at the famous Nord Pinus Hotel
When asked by a French frend where we were staying,
I answered the North Penis.
Carry on.
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Old May 26th, 2013, 05:20 PM
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My DH can also destroy the French language. I'll get a chance to revisit what I learned in high school (I won't say how long ago...... celebrating 50th reunion this year!!!! Yikes!!) but I sometimes hear or read something that I recognize from all those years ago. Like riding a bicycle?? ROTFLOL
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Old May 26th, 2013, 06:12 PM
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Welcome back! Look forward to hearing about the last bits of your trip - sounds like it was a great one!!
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Old May 27th, 2013, 09:36 AM
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Ok, so let’s tie things up for this trip. I will use K’s diary as a source for recounting things. I left you at our B&B in Baveno:

K returned about noon from her voyage out to the Isola Bella (5 minute boat ride). Although it was drizzling, she enjoyed her visit to the island, its famed gardens and to the palace (7.80 E for the boat and I think 13E for admission). Glad I stayed at the B&B.

For lunch we walked down the street and had warm minestrone soup and a split pizza for lunch—perfect on a damp day… 21E. sun came out and we sat by the lake for a while watching the activities..

At 7:30 we had a res for dinner downstairs at La Posta again. By now they all know us. I had a gorgonzola mousse and K had tomato bruschetta for starters. I had a mustard steak and K had veal bites---both were tasty. Delicious roasted potatoes accompanied our dinners. Tiramisu for me and fabulous pineapple carpacchio for K (circular paper thin slices of a whole fresh pineapple with a clear liquor sauce). 51E.

We settled our bill after dinner and the room worked out to 80E per night. We can’t say enough about the B&B, its owner, Barbara, and the family restaurant La Posta: Piazza Dante Aligheiri, 16; Baveno, Lake Maggiore. B&B is Locanda Nelia (#1 on TA, and justly so).


Saturday May 11

We left Baveno about 10:30 heading SW to the Asti, Italy area. Just before lunch we passed a Carrefour mega store so we decided to buy a picnic lunch and some non-perishables for our French house stay next week. Picked up cold drinks at a McDonalds along the way and had our picnic in the back seat again.

Our destination was the B&B Casa di Maio in Agliano Terme near Asti. We arrived at this lovely restored “farmhouse” about 3PM. Located at the top of a hill with grape vines nipping at its walls, this lovely B&B would be our home for the next 3 nights. Doreen Lee, the co-owner greeted us warmly. She is a Korean/Canadian who opens the B&B to guests from april thru to the fall each year. She is very knowledgeable about the local area and makes a superior host. She welcomed us with bubbly asti and we sat on the covered patio for a while discussing our stay and her experiences with the B&B. the house has very modern sleek décor and is very comfortable.
There are only 3 rooms and two women were also guests for our 1st night---one Canadian and one Australian. The ozzie joined us for dinner.
After settling in we drove over to Nizza where K did a wine tasting in the local community center. It was their weekend festival so there was lots of excitement in this town. For 5E K was given a large wine glass and a bib with a pocket in it to hold the glass and she visited some of the local vendor’s tables for wine sampling. There were many tables.

We drove back to Nizza, for dinner at Le Due Lanterne. We had thinly sliced veal with a tuna pate on the side, veal shanks slowly cooked in Babera wine, oven potatoes and asparagus and a bottle of local red… 30E each. Desserts… a very lovely meal served by a very welcoming staff and owners---very busy place.


May 12

Breakfasts that Doreen prepared were perhaps the best we have ever had---true gourmet. This first morning she served a beautiful fruit plate, yogurts, an asparagus frittata (could have been a painting), roasted pots, ham, and tomato artichoke salad. Earlier Doreen had served K coffee in the garden which overlooked grape vineyards and the valley.

It was 11:30 before we got moving. We headed to a hilltop winery which turned out to be closed so we would return the next day for that. We drove towards Alba, a local market town. The drive was thru vineyards, hazelnut trees and red poppies everywhere.

We visited another hilltop town named Roddi, followed by another—Grinz Cavour. And then on to La Mona. The views from these picturesque towns was fantastic. In the distance the snow caped Alps were clearly visible.

Sadly we had a quick lunch at burger king, but it tasted good. We promptly got lost after lunch on some narrow local roads amid the grape vines, but it was fun tooling around. We ended up in the middle of a bicycle race which lead us onto the highway behind them.

Back to the B&B about 4:30, Doreen served us coffee/tea, followed by free flowing Asti in the garden where we spent quite some time admiring the view.

For dinner, Doreen made a res for us in town at la Milonga (via cristoforo Colombo, 10; Agliano Terme).
The owner is quite a character and takes personal interest in ever table. K had smoked swordfish and I had tiny regional ravioli filled with cheese and hazelnuts with a cream sauce. This was followed with small egg noodle pasta with meet (correct spelling) sauce for K—way too much to eat, and a green salad. I had pork fillet with green pepper sauce. Our desserts were tarte tatin and hazelnut cake. K had a glass of red and 2 glasses of white… the owner kept pouring---this allowed him to have another drink too. This all was followed with prosecco and museskat (sp). 60E and worth every cent… a fun evening… we rolled back to the B&B.


Monday May 13


Lovely stuffed French toast, individual bowls of fresh fruits, cereals, juices, etc for breakfast. Another fabulous start to the day.

We returned to the Marchesi Alfieri wine estate for a tour. I sat in the sun in the lovely hilltop courtyard while K took the free tour. Btw, this is also a B&B. K said the inside was lovely and the wine very good. She bought 3 bottles of red, one special one which we need to age another 5-8 years before drinking.

From there we headed to Neive, one of Italy’s “most picturesque towns”. Small narrow streets wind around this hilltop town. We settled in on the rear patio restaurant of the Hotel Castelbourg overlooking the ancient church and small square for some lunch---I could have sat there forever…
We each had an antipasto of cured ham, potatoes, Russian salad, and a veal/tuna salad. I had a panna cotta and K had a chocolate bread pudding to die for. K had a glass of white wine and we had a bottle of water… 33E.

Got a bit lost leaving town but finally found our next destination, Babaresco with the help of our GPS. Drove into Asti to look around but did not stop… back to the B&B.

More tea/wine in the garden and then Doreen agreed to join us for dinner at another local spot—Fons Salutis Restaurant. Via alle Fontane, 125; Agliano Terme. K had an artichoke terraine and beef cooked on a hot stone plus FF. she was given a “lobster bib” because the beef spit a bit as it cooked. I had a cheese and hazelnut ravioli followed by a gorgonzola steak…. Doreen had seafood pasta. 33E each. Wine and water of course.


Tuesday May 14--- a travel day

Breakfast was again fabulous with eggs benedict served over a julienned veggie fritter and a fruit salad, plus, plus…

LOOK AT THIS B&B FOR A REALLY SPECIAL STAY IN THIS RELATIVELY UNVISITED AREA OF NW ITALY.

Again I think I paid 80-90E…. www.casadimaio.com For a parting gift Doreen gave us a lovely bottle of local olive oil.

We were on the road and headed for France. It was fairly mountainous along the way with many, many tunnels. In a small town we stopped at a café where we shared a Panini. In places the mountains with snow and rock cliffs were very dramatic… not the most easy driving, but fun.

We got off the highway at Antibes, near Nice. We found our B&B, La Bastide de la Brague, very near to Marineland. They are very friendly and she speaks good English. The place is a bit odd but comfortable and served our purposes well. We love Biot, a small town just up the hill.

They suggested that we go down to the Antibes port for dinner at Le Transat, an old established favorite of theirs (husband is a chef). We each had the 26E menu: K had artichoke and calamari salad and I had smoked ham, cheese and tomato. We both had the local Loppi fish served in a hot cast iron baking dish which had pots and veggies in a lovely sauce. 5E surcharge for the fish.

The port is crammed full of boats from 10’ to 200’. The large lux boats are quite a site… Around it are many many small restaurants a good place for a stroll, but parking can be tough
A quick drive into Nice and along the Prom. des Anglais before a welcome sleep.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 10:29 AM
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Wednesday May 15

A bit rainy as we awoke. Had a nice breakfast in the common room cooked by the “chef”. 80E for the B&B. we wanted to be near to the airport but yet in an interesting area.


K’s English pen-pal of 50+ years and her partner were flying in from London at noon to spend the next week with us. The airport is a very tight area and there is no place to stop or wait so I went into car park #2 while K went in to find them. A big mistake---26E for ½ hour in the garage…On to the highway and on our way to Collobrieres, a town of 1800 people in the maures west of St Tropez. We had rented another English friend’s house in this charming French village for a week. K & I have been here several times before and we just love this little old-fashioned French village. The town is noted for it’s chestnut products.

Along the way we had a quick lunch at McDonalds. We arrived about 3 and unloaded all our luggage into the ground floor where much of it would stay for the next week. We do not use this floor. The second floor is a large living room/dining room combo, a kitchen and a nice outdoor patio surrounded by other bldgs.. the top floor is two double bedrooms and a bath. There is a full bath on the ground floor as well.

After 4 when the shops re-opened we did a bit of shopping for our stay and for dinner and did out first visit to the bakery… the butcher ground K some “hamburg” from the end of a tenderloin from which she made meatballs for our pasta and meatball dinner with wine, salad, and bakery desserts. Oh, and baguette too with tons of local butter.

Thursday

Quiet day as we were all a bit tired. Did laundry and made 3 different forays in the village for shopping… cold-cuts for lunch on baguette… some walking around town… a freshly cooked whole chicken for dinner with new potatoes and salad… the wine flowed…


Friday

J&J went to the bakery for breakfast---fresh…

About 11:30 we headed out in the direction of st. tropez. Ended up in La Londe, oceanside and stopped in the rain at Chez Francis, a favorite small restaurant serving mostly moules (mussels) and frites (fries), plus a few other things… K says the moules are the best she has ever had and she always looks forward to return visits there.

Following lunch we drove along the coast thru Ramatoulle and thru St Tropez which was jammed because of a local festival…. We didn’t even stop because it was a zoo. Back to collobrieres where we stopped into one of the bars by the river and had a drink on their terrace. Dinner at the house.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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Saturday May 18

A very rainy day.. Jon & K went to the local store to get soup makings to which they would add some left over cold cuts… a fresh baguette and we were in business for lunch…

We relaxed at the house for the afternoon. For dinner we had made a res for a new restaurant in town up near to the church… Le Gourmandy’z. the place combines French food with a slight Asian flair… very good… 49.50E with 2 bottles of wine.


Sunday

Sunday is market day in Collobrieres. When I went out to the bakery earlt for our breakfast, the stalls were already set up in the marie square.
Later J&J, plus K went to the square and bought fresh seafood paella for our dinner. K would cameralize some fresh pears for dessert to which we added crème fraishe.

We had a 1PM res at the bar/hotel for Sunday lunch… Bar Hotel Restaurant des Maures… 21E fixed price. We had a wonderful table on the patio in the cool sunshine… the menu was: a platter with 4 large slices of cured ham and 4 generous slices of country pate; a large green salad with tomato; a huge wild mushroom omelet for 4; K&I had the veal roast and Jon had fatty pork slowly cooked in red wine and J had grilled duck breast. We had a couple of bottles of the local rose wine, some water and desserts. We spent a couple of hours there. It was glorious… we were stuffed

Dinner was late that evening…

Monday May 30

Joan went to the smaller bakery this AM as the usual one is closed on Mondays. Lynn the house minder came by so we could arrange for the cleaning, etc---60E.

About 11:30 I finally got in gear and we headed to the coast. We stopped at a winery along the way ans tasted a bit. Jon bought a few bottles. Chateau Saint-Maur. K & J bought a few wine coolers which we had often had our wines cooled in… Heavy duty clear plastic bags with handles… add ice and water plus a bottle and the wine cools nicely.

Next stop was Grimaude a hilltop town. It was busy there as it was market day. Hard to find parking but finally I found something. The market was a craft market and K bought a necklace and 3 small pieces of pottery.

We picked Le Clem’s a bar/restaurant for lunch--- we sat outside on the porch.. 3 of us salade Nicoise which was the best I had ever had. 69E
Next we drove to another hillside town near st tropez—Gassin. It is totally restored and there were tons of people there… I stayed in the car as I have often been there. Back home…

We drank a bottle of rose at the house and then walked up the hill to La Terrasse Provencale, a Turkish owned traditional French bistro. We all had the 29E menu… K had scallops and steak and rhubarb pie.. I had eggplant rolls and the scallops plus ice cream… J/J had tomato and mozzarella and then rabbit for 1 and steak for the other… local Var rose. As we were finishing dinner, Graham, Lynne’s husband, arrived to wish us well. He is great friends with the owner…. Soon more bottles of rose arrived, then lynne arrived then a single woman sitting next to us had joined us… and the party began…

A fitting end to our holiday and to our week in Collo.

Tuesday we packed up and drove toward Vence where we had a res at the Best Western Hotel Florreal. On the way we drove around Antibes port hoping to find a parking place—naught… so we headed to Biot on the hill… found a parking place. K stopped at a shop where she had had a purse made many years ago… she found a new one of course… we had lunch on the tiny main street at a picnic table at a bakery… just right..

On to the hotel. Found it easily with the GPS… decent enough with parking and a pool. We had wine on our balcony and later dinner in their restaurant--- limited menu, but a pork tenderloin special pleased us all… 13.5 E each and quite good…

Early to bed as J&J’s flt was at 9:40….

Wednesday May 22

Up early and packed up and off to Nice airport 20+ minutes down the road… Dropped J&J off at ‘kiss and fly’ and we left the airport to find some breakfast. Stopped at a small bakery and had just enough. Back to the airport for our 11:30 BA flt to Gatwick…. Found the tiny lot where the car had to be left and went inside to do the paperwork… had to wait for the person to arrive but we had plenty of time…

BA check in was easy---4 suitcases. I had requested a wheelchair I guess and they whisked us thru the formalities---head of the line. K had some trouble with her carry-on which slowed us by 30 minutes—a trainee was inspecting.

We had aisle/aisle seats on the 777 which was ok… a very good lunch of a chicken roll-up was served.
We were about a ½ hour late into Gatwick. I had a Sixt rental car as we had to drive to Heathrow for our 7:30 Boston flt. We drove to Oxted, Surry for lunch with our english friends who own the collo house. She served Coronation chicken from E.II’s 1952 coronation. It is fantastic---will be served at Boston GTG 2013. After a nice but all too short visit we were on the road to LHR. Found Sixt easily and our LHR check-in was easy.. there were 4 different areas to check in… we had no wait…

I STAND CORRECTED, THE PROBLEM WITH K’S BAG WAS AT LHR NOT IN NICE.

Again we had aisle, aisle seats… my seat mate was returning home from college in the UK, to her hometown of NEEDHAM… such a small world.

Breezed thru I&C in Boston with my wheelchair.. an enterprise rental car and we were home about 11PM…

REVIEW:
This trip was just one year in the making. We made our transatlantic res one year ago as we were finishing another cruise with Celebrity.

We both agree that this was one of our better and most pleasant adventures… the cruise was fantastic, our table-mates were a delight and life was good. We may plan a repeat for next year.

We enjoyed Umbria and our visit with my sister.

Tuscany gets better every time we visit. Our digs were superior and we loved exploring.

Lake Maggiore, a dream since 9-11-01 could not have been more enjoyable. The B&B and Posta restaurant suited us perfectly…

The area around Asti and our B&B nearby were fantastic. We loved discovering a new area.

Like Tuscany, our French visit increases our pleasures each time. Our time with J&J was full of laughs and good eating and wine.

Our car lease thru Peugeot was fantastic and trouble free. We will use them again.

I WOULD REPEAT THE WHOLE TRIP TOMORROW.
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Old May 27th, 2013, 03:51 PM
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Hi Bob, I finally had time to read your trip report. What a fabulous trip!
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Old May 27th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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Fantastic reporting as usual! Sounds like you had such a wonderful time. Looking forward to the fall

Aloha,
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Old May 27th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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Really fantastic report, Bob. If we could do a culinary-oriented trip in May to Italy for one week, where would you recommend and where should we stay? One place only, please....
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Old May 27th, 2013, 05:44 PM
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Bravo!!
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