Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wine and art tour of Provence

My amazing art instructor in Aix en Provence is offering this very cool art and wine tour....

Saturday, July 21, 2012


We are in an old windmill on the crater edge of Santorini using the internet....with a pretty spectacular view and a nice cool (almost cold!) breeze blowing in through the window and making the curtains dance.

Just read about the horrible shooting in Aurora, Colorado at a movie theater. Crazy.  Horrible and crazy.  and Scary.

After catching up on all of our bookings for the rest of the trip and our email we wandered into Fira for some lunch!

 Could we possibly eat all of this....

after lunch we found Josie's favorite store...accidentally...

and a little grocery shopping for dinner....

and back to our gorgeous terrace for dinner and another spectacular sunset...this is the view looking to the south to Fira and the port...

Josie bought a new dress today...

This picture helps give some perspective on where our terrace was....right on the rim of the crater.  We are probably in many tourists' photos...taken from both below (the crater-rim path was just below our terrace) and above...

This blue roof church was right next to our apartment and terrace...

We found many postcard with this view!  but they somehow got rid of the power lines...Greek rosé wine was delicious.  very different from provençal rosé, but still yummy...

Monday, July 16, 2012

16 july - Athens! and Pure Bliss.

ferry, taxi, bus, bus, metro, walk...aaah....cool hotel room!  Athens is HOT.  Like a blast furnace.

We arrived in Patras thinking we'd take the train to Athens, but there were some issues there, so bus it was.  But the next challenge was how to get to the bus station from the ferry port.  The taxis were trying to take advantage of the tourists, but eventually we found a reasonable taxi driver and some people to share the fare with.

Breakfast in the bus station...here's the menu...

Once we made it to Athens on the bus, then we had to figure out how to get to our hotel. A very kind english-speaking couple helped us find the right city bus and then we caught the metro and voila...we found our wondrous hotel.  Hotel Attalos on Athinas Str. just near Monstrataki square....with a rooftop view of the Acropolis!

After a rest, we wandered a bit and found an amazing vegetarian restaurant. Amazing food...

Herbaria ecologia...all greek and all vegetarian.  stuffed zuchini, spinach w/ rice and what we thought was lemonade but turned out to be ginger juice!  ooh lala! No one spoke english, so we just pointed and ended up with a spectacularly delicious meal that was cheap and amazing.  We ordered two glasses of what we thought was lemonade (see below), but hmm...it was GINGER JUICE!  Wow!  Zesty and refreshing.  Watered down a bit, really it was perfect on a hot dry day.

 We wandered around some more.  We found this great bookstore.  Josie needed a new book.  They had an English section, but we had to check out the Greek section, just to see what a Greek calculus book was like...

It's GREEK to me!  hahahaha!

More wandering around.  Did I mention it's hot?  How about some cold coconut?

And, of course, we had to find Tally Weijl!

Pure Bliss...most amazing restaurant...decor and food.  fabulous menu.  

Tartine (greek bread?) with feta cheese mousse (pink w/ beet juice) topped with beets, mint and walnuts.  

Detox salad with grapefruit and red fruit vinaigrette.  Pesto pasta w/ fresh tomatoes.  Noodles with veggies, egg and tamari.  


 For "dessert" we had strawberries, sugar and mint in water sort of...over ice.  Delicious!

Evening on rooftop terrace overlooking acropolis.  aaahhh.

It was 100 F today.  roasting.  but nice and cool on the roof right now.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

15 july - Ferry #4

We enjoyed the morning at our agro-BnB in the middle of an olive orchard.  This old olive tree in front of the house was gorgeous.


Castellana Grotte to Bari porto in car with Italian woman who doesn't speak English but was very kind and a crazy, but careful driver.  what an adventure.  she drove us along the coast when possible.  

We made it on to ferry just in time.  

We ended up with room to ourselves.  It was a very nice ferry. (now that we are ferry connoisseurs).

And a long nap in cool room. Lunch and dinner on ferry.   Lots of salad and watermelon because the restaurant was pretty meat heavy, but the salads were great.

car, ferry today...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

day 14 - the evasive post office

didn't make context tour
we found one post office, buy they didn't have boxes.  so they sent us to another one...which we couldn't find...but eventually did.  bought a box.

back to hotel to pack

load everything up to get bus to Termini station.  The post office was closed.

bad directions to post office that didn't exist and horrible encounter with awful rude taxi cab driver.  finally, i literaly ran carrying a bright yellow box to the post office i had seen from the bus window and made it there just before they closed.

plans to deposit bags and bag depot and go shopping were scuppered by the late hour and the long lines at the bag depot.  so we opted to relax and have lunch.  amazing lunch at the train station.  i had saffron risotto and josie had pesto pasta.  

on to high speed train to Bari.

arrive in Bari and wait in line at wrong ticket window so long that we missed the early train.  in the end it was a good thing because it gave us time to have some food and get my glasses fixed!  who would've thought there would be a really nice optical shop just across from the Bari train station still open at 7 pm on a sat evening??

eventually we made it to Castellan Grotte and our B&B. Our sweet young hostess picked us up at the train station.  Her name was something like Marijke and she's at university studying languages and spending the summer working at the family b&b which is mostly run by her aunt.  The home has been in their family since the 1700s.   it is an amazing stone farmhouse.
walk, bus, train, train, car

Friday, July 13, 2012

13 July - Borghese and MAXXI...centuries of art!

late start
MAXXI - hedgehog hanging over the front door, laundry lines.  Textile art with videos...guy dragging bales of clothes through museum, down the street.  tent with gloves.

really cool architecture!

Long walk to Borghese through the gardens...but beautiful...umbrella pines.
Bernini!!  apollo and daphne.  wow.  emilee's mona lisa.

cafe at piazza navona

watermelon in trastavere

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We are soldiering through the heat and crowds and enjoying the wonders of Roma...the eternal city. The food is wondrous and we are getting our fill of ancient...umm...stuff...art, architecture, stories, etc. etc. Today we saw the Sistine Chapel and the vatican museum with an archaeology professor...not quite Indiana Jones, but I think he aspires to be him.

We have two more days in Rome, then on to Bari in Puglia, where we'll stay at an agri-tourism B&B. In February at the World Water Forum, I heard a talk by a professor from Bari who has done research on the water consumption of the "Mediterranean diet"...I'm so excited to go eat in the area where he's from! Other than that...the guide book says that Bari is "the Bronx of Puglia". We only have one night there, then on to our 4th ferry to Greece!

12 july - Indiana Jones and the Sistine Chapel

Up early to meet our Context Tour group for our nerdly, professorial tour of the art of the Vatican.  We barely made it in time after working our way through the Roma public transit system and discovered that our Cuban, artist tourguide Jose had been replaced by American, Indiana Jones archaeology professor, Erik who has been living in Rome for 15 years.  Fascinating guy.  He was an endless fountain of information.

We started in the Vatican Museum which is enormous...we only saw a small bit of it. I was particularly impressed by the classical works and the octagonal courtyard thinking about Rafael, Michelangelo and Leonardo all studying and sketching there.  The Sistine Chapel of course was impressive.  It was rehabilitated a few years ago and I found it far more interesting having heard Erik's explanation of the scenes.  He told us that Michelangelo didn't paint it laying down as the urban legend goes.

Ending up in Saint Peter's Basilica was a Bernini festival.  And, the coolest thing was that Erik being an arcaeologist had a pass to get us underneath into the old chapel where the bones of Simon Peter might possibly be.

We wrapped up quite a bit later than the planned time...and Erik helped us try to find the restaurant Nora recommended.  He walked us part way then pointed us in the right direction.  But we needed food and drink asap and stopped at the first cafe we found once we realized that we weren't going to find Nora's recommendation.  Luck was with us and the cafe had a bunch of vegetarian choices and it was delicious!!!  Not cheap, but really worth it.  Josie had veggie cous cous...kind of indian spiced.  I had the "buffet" which came with salads and a quiche with salmon and potatoes and peas, and a delicious zucchinig tart on phyllo dough.  Yum!

After a rest in our cool hotel room, we did laundry at this wonderful little laundromat with internet!  Then wandered around Trastevere again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Day 11 - Colossal!

We revisited Trevi fountain first thing in the morning to toss our coins in with a smaller

Then off to the Colosseum...formerly known as...the _____ arena?

LIstened to Rick Steve's audio guide and stood in the shade as much as possible. The
colosseum really is colossal. I remembered it being smaller. I also don't remember being
able to walk around on the upper levels. The view down to the maze of passages that
would've been underneath the floor is impressive.

Hot, hungry and footsore already we had a snack at an amazing locals (i.e., not touristy)
"bar" cafe...Antica del Brasile on via del Serpenti (?). Very fun...big old bar and old
italian women who had passionate conversations.

Wandering up to the Pantheon, we stopped first at Santa Maria del Minerva outside of
which is this wonderful statue of an elephant sculpted by Bernini.

We liked this statue...as you can see...

Next, the Pantheon...one of the oldest complete roman buildings...maybe the oldest...all
of the dates and statistics run together. Everything is so old and has a story and I find
them all intriguing when I hear them, but now they're all running together.

I do remember that the Pantheon is 43 meters tall and wide. and its walls are 20 feet

thick in some places. It is now a church and they regularly shush everyone reminding
you that "this is a church". The nine meter diameter hole in the ceiling lets in light and
rain...so there are holes in the floor to allow water to drain, and the floor slopes to the

and Rafael is buried here, by his own request.

After a snooze in our cool hotel room, we headed out for apperitifs at a bar in Trastevere
that's in an old mechanics garage. We had mojitos and lots of good free food...an
amazing buffet spread.

Dinner at La Sclaretta in Trastevere...amazing and cheap! Packed in, elbow to elbow
with neighbors, speaking Italian.

Trastevere is lively at night with many shops still open and lots of people...tourists...I found a new wallet to replace the one that was stolen back in March.  and josie and i bought beatiful handmade glass necklaces.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 10 - Roma! the eternal city

Our wake up call came even earlier on this ferry! Oh my...4:45? Our ferry was
scheduled to arrive at 7am, but we arrived at 6am. Civitavecchia is a very industrial,
serious port...no napping on the beach here. We waited at the ferry dock for about an
hour for a bus to the train station. We had coffee and a pastry at the train station and
caught a much earlier train to Rome than we had expected. It is hot. Hot.

The train from Civitavecchia is a commuter line, so it was pretty crowded. As we were
climbing onto the train we had to step up a big step and as I hoisted myself and my
backpack up the step the guy in front of me stepped back and my glasses were slammed
down onto my nose, then flew off my face! Oh no! But I caught them! pshew! But the
nose pieces are bent...Oh no! Need to add "find an optical shop" to the list of things to do
in Rome. ;-)

We arrived in Rome's crazy busy and huge Termini train station. We walked about two
miles in the train station and called Mario at our B&B to see if we could leave our bags

there since we were so much earlier than we expected (9:30am vs. 12pm!). He said he
couldn't meet us until noon, so we had to find an alternative or just hang out until then.

so, we bought a guide to Rome at the book store and found the tourist info office and
a really nice spot to sit and studied up on Rome for a couple of hours. We bought
our Roma passes, then headed out to catch the bus to our B&B...on the way we got
sidetracked by the sales in Coin...a big department store in the train station. So, we were
running a little late...but I thought "one bus and a short walk...can't take us that long".

Oh, how wrong I was! First we had to find the bus in the craziness of buses outside the
train station, then wait for the bus, then rattle around on the bus through crazy Rome
traffic, then find the stop...easy enough...Ministirio de Instructione...or something like
that. Hmm..except there are no stops called that! Ah! We went too far. Off the bus,
find the stop going the other way. Back on the bus, but asking the bus driver this time.
He answers in Italian and I don't understand him. So, we end up passing the stop. I ask
the bus driver and he waves and fusses at me in Italian. Ack. We get off at the next stop
and after a bit of wandering around finally find the hotel. Tired and hot, we are so happy
to be in our happy and cool "black and white" room with its zebra striped duvet and silver
lame headboard. Ahhh.

Mario, our host, is great and recommends restaurants and orients us on a map, then leaves
us to rest, and we put our feet up for a little siesta.

Cooler and rested we head out to find the shopping street! Via del Corso...and Tally
Weijl...Josie's favorite clothing store in Europe. We took the tram from Trastavere into
central Rome and buy a bus map at a Tabac and stop at a little (super touristy) cafe for a
drink...we are hot and tired and hungry (already!). After our little stop we were fueled for
Saldi! Saldi! Saldi! Sales! Sales! Sales! It seems like Italy does the same thing as France
with all of the shops having sales at the same time.

Wandering through the shopping district was good fun...window shopping at Prada, Dior,
etc. etc.

Josie and a pretty cool Prada hand bag. But some of the other Prada styles weren't quite
so amazing...like these...

and these...

Seriously? They probably cost 1000 euros! They look like Truffula bags...like you made
a purse out of a 70s barefoot bath rug. Hee...okay for all of my making fun of them, that
green one would be a really fun purse to have.

Some other fun fashion shots...

these are some serious sequins!

and this one was a full pant suit by Prada...I wish I had taken a photo of the full effect.
Truly amazing.

We accidentally found the famous Spanish Steps...

After an apperatif of prosecco...yum...we had an amazing dinner at .... some restaurant
that I can't remember the name of, in a courtyard off of a street not far from the spanish

steps. The food was wonderful...bruschetta, a big plate of veggies (spinach!!! lots and
lots of spinach! and green beans and zucchini...we were so happy). It took forever to get
the bill and by then I was about the fall over and I nearly had to stand on the table and
wave my arms. Note to self...ask for the check sooner! The owner/manager woman had
the most amazing giant daisy earrings...wow...she looked spectacular with her died red
hair and these giant daisies swinging around.

Then we stumbled upon Trevi Fountain...us and about 5000 other people....

But it still felt pretty magical...in Roma...the eternal city.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A grand travel day

Here's what we did today...starting at Kevano plage camping area on the southwest coast
of Corsica, drive to Figari Airport, return rental car, taxi to Bonifacio, walk to ferry port,
ferry to Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardinia, walk to bus station, bus to Olbia aeroporto, bus
2 to Olbia, bus 9 to Olbia porto, chill in ferry station, and finally....ferry to Civitavecchia,
Italia. We'll be there tomorrow morning at 7am.

Reflections on our grand day of travel...Josie has turned into the most chill travelling
companion. Bonifacio is a beautiful old city situated on cliffs overlooking the sea and
Sardinia with a fort and a very busy port. We both want to go back there. Sardinia is
just like Corsica, only it's Italian, which makes it very different....different architecture,
different roads, different language, but the vegetation and landscape are very similar.

Our cab driver from Figari to Bonifacio was very nice and said that my french was
good! We actually had a real conversation, but rapidly approached the limits of my
understanding and ability to speak. I think I understood that the ancient corsicans did not
live on the coasts and that the coastal cities developed when the Genoans moved to the
island. I need to read more about Corsican history.

The buses on Sardinia was a bit confusing and I've been struck hard by the fact that I'm
now in a country where I do not speak the language at all! I had gotten comfortable
in France with at least being able to passably communicate. Thankfully the little bit I
know of spanish and my french go a long way in understanding signs and asking simple

questions. And, the Italians are SO nice! I love it here. Olbia doesn't seem to be a
fantastic city, but we sure saw some spectacular beaches from the bus window on our
way from Santa Teresa to Olbia.

We have a few hours hanging out in the ferry port before we can board our ferry.

Dinner at the ferry port tonight was amazing! We are both so exciting about eating
Italian food now. I had delicious veggie risotto and josie had the best pizza...it gave
you "spaghetti o's"...you know those shivers you get when something you eat is just
amazing? And we had a delicious red wine. And it wasn't expensive. check out the

The ferry boat (ship?) is pretty nice, but not many places to go outside. But it's dark
anyway, so we're just going to bed. Our little cabin is nice and a shower is going to feel
really good.
Here are the photos...

returning our pink rental car at Figari airport north of Bonifacio

Bonifacio had a really busy harbor/port. Count how many boats are coming and going in
this photo!!

View back into Bonifacio's harbor.

View of the actualy old town of Bonifacio from the sea. I want to go back there!

Looking back toward Corsica...We're on an Italian boat and aren't in France anymore.

Coming into Santa Maria's harbor on Sardinia.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Day 8 - Our last night in France!

I can't believe it's our last night in France. I'm not ready to leave.

We've had an uneventful day driving down the coast. We passed through Ajaccio, the
second biggest city on Corsica, which was nothing to write home about. The scenery has
shifted to more rolling cultivated hills and less craggy crazy cliffs and mountains. It is so
hot and dry. Many hillsides are just brown and parched.

We decided to keep going past Ajaccio and to try to camp as close as we can to the
airport where we have to return the rental car tomorrow, but we also wanted to stay
on the coast, so we're at Kevano Plage campground. The campground is on a hillside
covered with kind of scrubby oak. There are some nice amenities, like a volleyball court
and some blooming flowers. But it hot and dry and dusty and there's not much breeze
and there are mosquitoes!! Did I mention it's hot! Our little tent site is tucked into a nook
in some oaks (I think). And, just as at the other campsites, the sites are packed practically
on top of each other, but the design of the site gives a little sense of privacy. Like I said,
our site was just big enough for our little tent and little car and is really secluded on two
sides...which also means it gets no breeze.

Despite the name of the campground, it is not located on a plage, but it's not too long of a
walk to a really beautiful beach. We were so hot and a bit sunburned that we decided to
sit on the terrace, use the WiFi and stay out of the sun, and then go to the beach with our
little dinner to watch the sunset. A good plan! Today has been the hottest day yet, and
by 7pm there was barely a sign of cooling off.

We walked down to the beach with our last bottle of french rose wine, some bread and
cheese and cucumber and pepper and some fruit for our last dinner in France...to watch
the sun set. Note to self...."just because you are on the west coast of an island, doesn't
mean that the beach will actually point west!"....so the sun set over the hills to our right,
not over the water which was actually to the south...the corsican coastline is pretty
wiggly. Oh well...it was a beautiful evening none-the-less and our dinner was perfect and
the wine was good.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

day 7

Day 7-
Boat ride to the nature reserve in the gulf of Scandola and to the village of Ghirolata. We

were in a semi-rigid boat...I think that's what they call them...it's a big zodiac with a hard
bottom, a big motor, and a little canopy/cockpit for the captain....a nice boat.

The first part of the trip we would go into these little caves along the coast line and he
would manage to turn the boat around in these tiny caves. That was impressive! And, he
would turn on music while we were in the caves.

I hardly understood a word our guide said. Between the wind, the motor sound, his
accent and the speed with which he spoke, oh, and the face that I don't know the
vocabulary for a lot of what he was talking about...I was lost. Josie gave up completely
and just enjoyed the ride, which got exciting at one point when our guide was on his cell
phone and speeding across the ocean to our next stop and he didn't notice that we were
hitting the wake from another boat that created some larger steep waves. We slammed
into them at too high of a speed and Josie got washed off of her seat...thankfully into the
bottom of the boat and not into the sea!! Exciting!

The nature reserve was beautiful...the water so blue, the rock red and black, the sky blue.
The little village of Ghirolata was quaint and we enjoyed a coffee and tea on a terrace
overlooking the sea.

For lunch we had sandwiches from a shop where you select the guts of your sandwich
from a display case. The different sandwich innards are on little, long skinny metal
trays, which are then set on a small metal table top that hinges so that you can flip it over.
The shopkeeper cuts open a baquette the same lenght as the little metal trays...holds the
baguette up next to the table top and flips the sandwich guts into the bread. The metal
tray is magnetic (or the table is?) and so the metal tray sticks to the table and viola! you
have your sandwich....the bread isn't soggy from sitting in the fridge as an pre-made
sandwich! ingenious!

We continued driving south along the coast to Calcatoggio where we are staying at A
Marina campground. It's hot! But we do have a shade tree and the beach is a very short
walk away. So, we spent the afternoon lying on the beach and swimming, then showered
and are spending the evening using their WiFi and having a pizza, which isn't as good as
Les Oliviers. Oh well...the beach is right here...we are happy. The beach isn't stony! It's like coarse sand/find gravel...right around that 2 mm transition. A little more comfy than
the stones in Nice and Porto. Life is good.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 6 - Sleep and rest

Zzzzzz.....our peaceful little tent in a shady grove created a perfect haven for snoozing
in today. I think I finally climbed out of the tent around 11am and Josie followed before
noon. Lunch at a little cafe called le Cigale right on the main road and over to sign up for
a snorkeling trip for later in the afternoon.

Down to the beach to read and relax (a stony beach again!!!) until snorkeling at 4. The
stones make walking to the water quite an adventure...oooch..ouch...yowz...ah.. ooh.
And, then lying on the stones on just a sarong...not the most cozy, but it felt to be on the
beach. The clouds built up a bit and the wind had been blowing, so we weren't roasting.

Our snorkeling trip was with Porto Plongee...a local dive operation and dive school. The
three other people with us were doing an introductory scuba dive with an instructor...just
for 15 minutes. We went out into golfo porto...not too far...in a protected cove on the
south side of the bay. There wasn't a whole lot to see snorkeling wise...some little fish
and rocks. But it was wonderful to be in the water and we got to dive off of the boat too.
I got cold despite the short wetsuit, so I got in the boat to enjoy the sun while Josie kept
Back to our lovely campground for dinner and rest...aahhhh.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 5 - Corsica!!

on the ferry...Our wake-up call came at 4:45 am!  Seriously?  The ferry wasn't due to arrive until 6am, but they wanted to make sure everyone knew that breakfast was available and that we needed to be out of our rooms in time for them to be cleaned.  We had brought pain chocolat with us, and enjoyed it on the deck watching Corsica's rugged silouhette grow larger and larger on the horizon as the moon was setting....
and the sun was rising...

Arriving in L'Ile Rousse we headed straight for a cafe for some caffeine...and the sunrise...
here's our ferry...the yellow one...
We found the train station, which wouldn't open until 7am, so we relaxed at a picnic table near the port.  When the train station opened we learned that the first tram to Calvi wouldn't leave until 10am, so we had three hours.  We wandered to the center of the village, had another breakfast, then went to the beach for a most pleasurable nap in sand.

Another coffee and on to the Tram to Calvi.

The coastline between L'Ile Rousse is spectacular. One breathtaking view after
another. The rattle-trap tram chugs its way along full of sun-seeking tourists headed
for some beach or another...like this one for example...yes, lined with tamarisk!

This beach close to Calvi had an amazing aqua-play area...we thought it looked like a lot
of fun...

In Calvi we spent at least 1/2 hour wandering around looking for the Avis rental car
office...even the Gendarms didn't know where it was and sent us off in the wrong
direction! We finally found them (after a visit to the most unhelpful tourisme office) and
got our car....a violet (PINK!) Renault Twingo...cute little two-door car....just adorable.
Two chicks driving around in a pink car. too funny!

The drive on to Porto was phenomenal! the views were spectacular, the road was tiny,

the cliffs on the ocean side were precipitous and I don't think I got out of 3rd gear...most
of the drive was in 2nd. We settled on Les Oliviers camping, a gorgeous campground
that packs in the campers, but still manages to maintain a sense of privacy. The
swimming pool is wondrous...beautifully sculpted into a fake rock cliff with stair-stepped
pools. There was a waterfall thing, that I thought was a slide, but the rock was really
rough, so I can't imagine sliding down it.

One of the other amazing aspects of this campground and its pool is the view...

The landscape reminds us of the mountains in New Zealand....young and craggy. The
vegetation has the same texture as the NZ bush, but here it's called the 'maquis'...was the
star trek resistance movement named after this? My french teacher told us that during
WWII the maquis was very important to the resistance fighters....dense bush where you
can hide.

Back to the blanket of vegetation...imagine a bumpy green carpet of many different
shades of green all the way down to the sea...I need to find a good picture...I'm sure I
took one.

We pitched our 29 euro Decathalon tent for the first time and immediately put on our
swim suits and headed for the pool. Aaaah. cool water and a good book and a nice nap.

Dinner at the restaurant at the pool. It's really good! surprise surprise. they make wood
fired pizza and great salads...with a glass of kir and a monaco, we were happy.

Then we had the great idea to walk to the beach thinking maybe we could see the sun set.
The walk was a bit longer than we expected and we nearly missed couchant soleil...but
caught this just in time...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy July 4th!

We totally forgot it was July 4th.  Oops.  The exciting event in southern France is the start of the sales...Soldes!  Soldes!  Soldes!  the stores were packed, and it's Wednesday. 

I started the morning by visiting the local market for some food for us to take with us this evening on our ferry trip.  This market was markedly different from the market in Aix...much more spread out and less crowded.  No tourists.  I only found one Bio (organic) stand, and it wasn't a producteur or grower.  But I did see these gorgeous wild artichokes...

Josie and I finally left our B&B around noon and fought our way through crowds of sale shoppers to get to the old Nice city to attempt to find a specific boulangerie or bakery for lunch.  I read in Rick Steve's guide that one must try tourte aux blettes, which is made with chard and white beets.  there's a sweet version and a savory version.  Unfortunately, the recommended bakery was on holiday until the end of July.  We did find the chard tourtes at another bakery, and I really enjoyed the savory one...hmmm...the sweet one?  maybe not so much.

After lunch it was beach time!!!  Hoorah!  We splurged on chairs and an umbrella and lounged on the French Riviera. 

Back to the B&B to reclaim our bags and make our way to the port for the ferry to Corsica.   

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 3 - Monaco!

We arrived in the subterranean train station and headed to the old city.  We popped out from underground just in front of the Prince's Palace where the changing of the guard was about to begin.  We opted to go have lunch...pizza again...instead of watching the ceremony from behind massive crowds of people.  We couldn't see anything anyway. 

The host/manager/waiter/owner? of the restaurant was pretty outrageous...he squawked at passers-by and grumbled when they chose to not eat there.  He gave us serious grief for wanting to share a pizza and finally agreed when I said we'd go elsewhere....if we ordered drinks for two.

We visited the Prince's Palace and the Napoleon Collection...the most exciting thing was his hat.

We headed down toward the port past the massive oceanographic museum with a floating baby and the yellow submarine outside.

The bateau bus was expensive 2 euros each! but it's solar-powered electric and saved us a long walk around the port.

To the casino in Monte Carlo.  Josie isn't 18, so couldn't go in, so we had a coffee at a cafe across from the casino and marvelled at the expensive cars.

Back to Nice for our amazing dinner at La Bistro de Fromager.  Yum!  Entree was tomate, barata with basilic and huile d'olive...the most amazing mozarella served on a tomato with basil pesto sauce and olive oil.  Our main dishes were amazing.  Josie had tagliatelli with cognac, sage and parmesan.  The hot pasta was tossed in a giant wheel of parmesan!  The cognac was a great touch and Josie commented that she felt like she was eating a mojito.  My main dish was market veggies served with a cheese fondue.  The veggies has been cooked with lots of garlic and herbs and my favorite part was that they included radishes!  I love french radishes and had never thought to cook them.  For dessert we had strawberries with the "taste of wild strawberries"...I was confused and thought he said they were wild strawberries...oh well...they did taste delicious...served with mint.  My coffee was incredible and Josie had herbal tea that he mixed for her including mint, thyme and rosemary. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 2 - Nice is nice

Musee Matisse
Franciscan Monastery garden - artichokes and amazing flowers
Musee Massena - history of Nice in a mansion on the seashore
Strolling through old town Nice
Dinner at a pizza place...recommended in Rick Steve's guidebook.  It was okay, but not great.
Ice cream at Fenocchio's...wow...they have so many different flavors!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 1 - Off to Nice

July 1st and the 1st day of our month sojourn across the Mediterranean Sea from France to Istanbul.  Our first leg of the journey was a walk through Aix to the SNCF train station where we boarded the train to Nice.  Caroline and Lucy came to the train station to meet us and brought us some yummy goodies!  Croissants and amazing pastries from Glacier.  We were sad to say goodbye, but excited to be on our way.

About an hour into the train ride it occurred o me to check on the status of our passports (Caroline had jokingly asked me "do you have your passports?") and at first I couldn't find them!!!  I was panicking and already making plans for going back to Aix to find them hopefully on the couch in Michal and Bruno's apartment, when I discovered that I had stored them carefully at the bottom of my backpack. 

We arrived at our BandB, Chez Josephine, with no problems where we were greeted by our Scottish hostess, Josephine.  She gave us some great ideas for where to go and what to see in Nice.  We headed straight to the Musee Chagall, which was free because it was the first Sunday of the month.  Chagall's work is interesting...beautiful colors and especially the blues.  His work is very religious and much of it was intended for chapels.  Interesting, with him being jewish.  I would like to learn more about him.

We then rented the blue bikes to ride back to the seashore.  Our ride was quite harrowing!  City traffic and not knowing exactly where to go.  Josie hadn't been on a bike in several months.  Riding along the Promenade des Anglais...the seashore "boardwalk"...was really nice, but getting there was stressful. 

We visited the Hotel Negresco, which is an old hotel on the sea from the victorian era.  The tea room/restaurant is like the inside of a carousel.  Complete with carousel horses and a bizarre animated show that starts every 40 minutes or so.  It was a little creepy...the music changed and this creepy mannequin of a young girl playing an organ starts to move. 
Then we headed up Chateau Hill (or Castle Hill...which doesn't have a castle anymore) to enjoy the communist party's party.  What a fabulous street festival!  Great live music...food and drink.  We tried socca, which is a local pancake made from chickpeas...thin like a crepe, but greasy and salty....delicious!  Then we had a delicious plate of Palestinian food for only 6 euros...hummus, dolmades, taboule, bulghar, salad and tazitki...yum!  Then pesto pasta and a mojito from the Cuban booth.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bonne fête des mères! Happy french mother's day!

Today was mother's day in France.  And, it's the first Sunday of the month so museums are free!  Josie and I wandered through the beautiful outdoor market...a special mother's day version, then went to the Musée Granet to enjoy some free art.  Afterwards we had crèpes and headed home.

The weather has cooled off and it even rained a little.

We had bruschetta and specactular market fresh salads for both lunch and dinner today.  Josie is a master bruschetta chef...and she made this gorgeous dinner for mother's day for me...thank you sweetie!

The tomatoes and garlic were market fresh and we picked the basil from the basil bush on our terrace.

Can you figure out what we were watching?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

SAT, market madness and Marseille...

Josie had to be in Luynes this morning by 7:45 to take the SAT, so we had to be at the Gare Routière by 6:45 to catch the bus so that we'd have time to walk from Luynes to her school.  After an early coffee at a thankfully open café in Luynes, she got signed in and I took the bus back to Aix for some early morning market shopping.

the countryside across from Josie's school...it was a beautiful morning.

Josie's school, the International Bilingual School of Provence (IBS), is behind the trees on the right side of the road in the photo above.

The country lane leading away from IBS...there's no shoulder on the road, so walking is a little uncomfortable, but fortunately there wasn't much traffic.

Josie's school bus has to cross this little one-lane bridge everyday.

getting into the village of Luynes

An interesting way to create a privacy fence!

walking through Luynes...framed by plane trees...

After three trips to the market (I couldn't carry everything!) I had finally assembled all the food and flowers on my list.  Walnut oil, roasted beets and fresh goat cheese...and...

fruit and veggies today included...petit pois, fava bean, tomatoes, fresh garlic and onions, radishes, many different salad greens, melon, apricots, apples, sweet red pepper, carrots, baby cucumbers, green beans, lemons, kohlrabi, mint, cilantro, chives, walnuts ... and probably other things I've forgotten.

Some nuns sell flowers in the petit marché on SAturdays...I love the bouquet I got today...

After noon, I caught the bus back toward Marseille, Josie got on in Luynes and we headed to Marseille for lunch at Gourmandines de Prado...

the mango and lemon sorbet was delicious...and looked like an egg...

and Josie had the most amazing dessert...coffee ice cream with hot chocolate...and chantilly or whipped cream.  the hot chocolate was so thick and rick...yuuummmm....