A Travellerspoint blog

Day 30

Saint-Ambreuil to Dijon

sunny 26 °C

I was a little confused yesterday, maybe it was the wine. I thought we were to spend another night in Saint-Ambreuil because at dinner last night Oliver and Monique were talking about our meal tomorrow. I thought they were planning another dinner but it was lunch they were planning as we were actually travelling to Dijon today.
So, we slept in after our great night last night and then had a leisurely breakfast of coffee and croissants. We did the laundry yesterday so today we had to gather and fold our clean clothes. Or so we thought. While we we chatting with Oliver and Vianney on the deck, Monique was inside folding and ironing our clothes. We were being spoilt.
And then lunch. the appetiser was wild boar cheek terrine, extremely delicious, followed by a main course of venison, salad & frites (chips). You should know that Oliver is a hunter and the boar and deer came from the hunt. Then desert of cornflower tart ("poor persons food") which was also surprisingly good for what it was.
Following fond farwell to Oliver and Monique, we headed off to Dijon by way of the Burgundy wine route "Route des Grands Cru" stopping off at Beune to taste some wines. Beune is a very French city in the heart of the Burgundy wine region. We went to Patriarche "the largest cellers in Burgundy" which is amazing and extensive with more than 3 million bottles stored. The tasting was a bit disappointing, because they only use 2 types of grapes in Burgundy, Pinot for the reds and Chardonnay for the whites. We got to taste 12 wines, 3 whites and 9 reds but I am not a lover of Pinot and found them all not to to my taste. (whereas we had a Merlot-Cabernet from Bordeaux tonight which was more to my taste) The whites were good though.
Travelling along the wine route you come to realise how extensive the grape plantings are here. Vines as far as the eye can see, with a cute little village thrown in every few miles
We are staying at Vianney's and (his girlfriend) Pauline's apartment tonight and tomorrow night. They are very good to invite us stay as it is very small for 4 people and their pet rabbit. We had dinner of cheese, meats and salads in the courtyard. It was very nice.
Tomorrow we explore Dijon.


Posted by John McReynolds 06:50 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 29

Sainte Maxime to Saint-Ambreuil

sunny 26 °C

The day started with a quick look at the Sainte Maxime waterfront which was very nice, smaller and less glamourous than Nice but very French. Then we made an attempt to visit Saint-Tropez but the traffic was terrible and in the end we decided it wasn't worth it. Which turned out to be a good move because instead we visited a pretty little village in the hills "Gassin" with great views of the coast and some nice cafes where I had coffee and cake for breakfast.
After Gassin we took the long drive (5 hours) to Saint-Ambreuil, in Burgundy, where Vianney's parents Oliver and Monique live. They live in a very old, very French looking house which they restored and extended over a number of years. Such an interesting house with cellers and work rooms and all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies that you would never find in a modern home. They showed us photos of the original house and the restoration work in progress and it was facinating.
And then dinner. What a feast! We started with beer and some home made brioche which didn't really go together but were both very nice. Then the appetiser which was escargot, yes SNAILS, cooked in a puffed pastry. I always said I would never eat snails but as a guest, I had to. And they were good, but I couldn't say I love them. Then we had the main course which was a simple roast chicken and vegetables, but both the chicken and vegetables were special. Obviously they didn't buy the chicken at Woolworths.
Then the cheese course. Six different types of cheese, all different, all delicious and all in large quantities. By the end of the cheese we were full, so then we had dessert which was a fig pie. Also delicious. And all of this accompanied by a Burgundy Chardonnay, followed by a Burgundy Pinot, followed by a Burgundy Cremant De Bourgogne (champagne but not from Champagne). I was offered a "strong" nightcap but I had had enough.. of everything. A wonderful night. (I would have loved to take photos of all this but it didn't seem the right thing to do)
Tomorrow we go to a winery to sample the wines, and then another night here. Will we survive? I'll let you know.


Posted by John McReynolds 02:06 Archived in France Comments (0)

Day 27 & 28

Nice and Sainte Maxime

Well a lot has happened in the last two days. On Sunday we left the ship in Venice and flew to Nice where we were met by our friend Vianney. That afternoon we took a look at Nice which was looking very beautiful under a cloudless blue sky. We then drove into the hills behind Nice and eventually found our accommodation fo the night, An apartment (booked through AirB&B) in an old house with excellent mountain views and not much else. A place to sleep. After we checked in we drove to the ancient town of Eze, also in the hills, which we explored for a while and then had dinner in one of the restaurants in the area. A good day.
In the morning we travelled to Monaco and explored the area around the Oceanographic Museum (Musée océanographique) which is an interesting area with spectacular coastline views. From there we went to the Monaco port/marina to look at the boats. The "yachts" moored there need to be seen to be believed.
In the afternoon we drove to Sainte Maxime, which is west of Nice on the South Coast, and played golf at a Golf Blue Green, Sainte Maxime, a difficult, hilly and not very friendly course built amongst the hills. Even though we used motorised carts, we had to do a lot of walking on very hilly terrain and it was very tiring. I didn't enjoy the course much but Liz played good and got 38 points. Dinner at a very nice restuarant on the waterfront at Saint Maxime which looks very pretty at night. Will have a good look in the morning, we have an apartment right in the middle, one block from the beach. Very tired tonight, exhausted in fact. Looking forward to a sleep in tomorrow and then heading to Burgundy to stay with Vianney's parents.


Posted by John McReynolds 23:36 Archived in France Comments (0)

Days 25 & 26

Sea Day and Venice

overcast 25 °C

Well the sea day was pretty uneventful. Not really a lot to do but relax, eat and drink, each of which I did quite a bit of. In the afternoon we watched the movie Furious 7 which is ridiculous but fun.
Today, Day 26, we reached our last port, Venice, in the afternoon. It started off beautifully with our ship cruising down the Grand Canal giving us excellent views of Venice. Unfortunately, the rest of the visit was a little bit disappointing. The ship organised boat shuttles to the centre of Venice but because we arrived in the afternoon, everyone wanted to get off the ship and onto the shuttles at the same time and the Italian organisers couldn't cope. It was a complete farce with nobody really knowing what was going on. Anyway we got to our destination and were enjoying walking around the little streets and alleys when a storm hit which meant we had to huddle under a small shelter for some time until the storm passed. When the rain stopped, we took a Gondola ride which was nice and then had an early dinner in one of the many restaurants in Venice which was nice and expensive for what we had.
Again the sheer number of tourists spoilt things a bit as well. There were 6 cruise ships in Venice today which meant everywhere was crowded. I repeat, don't travel in Europe at this time of year if you can help it.
Venice is a beautiful and interesting city and I would like to spend more time here but the volume of tourists and what goes with it, the higher prices, the ubiquitous and pushy street sellers (selfie sticks are a big item at the moment) do become tedious.
Tonight we have the unpleasant task of packing up and getting ready to leave the ship in the morning. The end of the cruise is always a little bit sad and more so because we have to say goodbye again to Laura who is heading back to London.
Tomorrow we fly to Nice to meet our friend Vianney who will show us some of his France. We look forward to that.


Posted by John McReynolds 14:12 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Day 24


sunny 33 °C

Well today we did look at old ruins. Arrived in Piraeus this morning with the intention of taking the train to Athens and doing the independent tourist thing. But it was hot, there were four ships in port and everybody seemed to have the same idea. So we decided to risk a taxi tour. Well it was a great decision. The driver we went with, Lakis, was wonderful. He took us to the Acropolis and waited about 2 hours for us to see what we needed to see, (we did a guided tour to beat the queues which were huge) then took us to the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch, the Original Olympic Stadium, the Changing of the Guard at the Greek Parliament and to the highest drivable point in Athens for some fantastic views of Athens. He then dropped us off in Plaka, the old district, where we had lunch and a look around and then an hour later picked us up and drove us back to the ship, all for €150 (or €50 each) Cheap, believe me. The same tour from the ship, in a bus, would have cost over €250 each.
The famous Athens landmarks are spectacular and worth seeing but the crowds of tourists are unbelievable. My advice is don't come here in the summer.
Anyway, we had a great day in an amazing city.
Sea day tomorrow and then our last port Venice.


Posted by John McReynolds 22:31 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

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