Arrivederci Lucca

It is time to say good bye to Lucca which has been our home base for the week. But before we go, I would like to share a few more points of interest.

Lucca is very centrally located to take in many other sites in Tuscany. Notably we are just one hour from Florence. Since we had visited Florence on a prior trip, we opted for these other memorable sites.

San Gimignano is a beautiful, medieval hilltop village most recognized for it’s 14 tower houses. The town is home to approximately 7800 and many tourists.

While filled with interesting sites and shops, it really is best viewed from a distance where one can take in the tower filled skyline.

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Volterra is a well preserved, walled, hilltop town, widely know for its Alabaster artistic handcrafts mined in the surrounding area.

 

Additionally, we were rewarded with great views ruins of a Roman Theatre from the first century B.C. This site was only excavated in the 1950’s.

Incidentally, Volterra was the location of the home to the Volturi in the Twilight series although I did not see any vampires on our visit.

Pisa gave us quite a treat as we rounded the corner to the field of Miracles and there was the Leaning Tower of Pisa amidst its companion structures, the baptistery and the Duomo (Cathedral).

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The Campanile or bell tower is widely know for it’s unintended tilt. While efforts to improve it’s posture were done in 1990 and 2001, the tower still retain’s a jaunty tilt since the beginning of it’s construction in the 12th century.

 

 

 

 

The Cinque Terre or 5 lands are a group of villages along a rugged coast line. Few roads still serve this area. We elected to use the train from La Spezia, traveling mainly through tunnels carved into the hillsides separatig the villages.

Each of the five villages have there own uniqueness, some with spectacular coast line views and others with small sandy beaches.

All five villages can be reached by train, ferry boat or a walking trail know as the Azure Trail.

 

Back in Lucca, we spent our last evening watching the 1,000 Miglia.

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The Mille Miglia (Thousand Miles) was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before the war, eleven from 1947). It was discontinued in 1957 due to 2 fatal car crashes.

Since 1977, the “Mille Miglia” has been reborn for classic and vintage cars. Participation is limited to cars, produced no later than 1957, which had attended (or were registered) to the original race. The route (Brescia-Rome round trip) passed through Lucca Friday night and we were just in the right place at the right time to see this memorable event.

The cars passed along the Lucca city wall and then through the Piazza Anfiteatro where we watched from our favorite restaurant, Parlascio.

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The experience of staying in one place for a week is getting to know the locals. the friendly staff here as well as our local grocer across the way really made us feel at home.

Belissimo Lucca, ti vogliamo bene

Lucca

Currently our “home town”, this sweet walled city is located in Tuscany, central Italy. A perfect location for visiting other sites in this area. Lucca is well known for its intact Renaissance era city walls. Since the times of Julius Caesar, Lucca has been an important hub of activity.

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The inner city of Lucca is almost traffic free, with about 10,000 people living within the walls. It is the perfect place to stroll, sit with an espresso and watch people or take off to visit nearby sites such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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Entering a walled city can be a challenge. The inter city is enclosed in a big circular wall and finding the right port to enter can be a little stressful. You want to be close to parking while making sure you have not entered into a pedestrian only area! It was a good feeling to locate the correct gate and park the car. I am not kidding, this is an “ah ha”, orgasmic moment when you have arrived in the right place without a scratch on car or body. Now, how to find our accommodations.

 

Accommodations
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We found this lovely, two bedroom, two bath apartment on VRBO. Well priced and located, it was almost perfect; almost, except for the 46 very steep stairs to the fourth floor unit. Yes, that is our window at the top!

 

Still we enjoyed the great view of Piazza Anfiteatro from our kitchen window and the comfort and convenience an apartment offers.

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The City

Lucca is not filled with exceptional historical monuments but there is plenty to see. Among the sites are the Duomo di SanMartino, the Guinigi Tower and the birthplace of Puccini.

 

 

Lucca is full of  charm at every turn.

 

A stroll along the small avenues and alleys is an endless source of uniqueness; high fashion shops, art galleries, fab shoe and purses boutiques and the proverbial tourist joints.

Lucca Cuisine
There are lots of options for eating and drinking in Lucca. We are enjoying espresso and a baguette each morning in our apartment while listening to the sounds of the businesses in the Piazza Anfiteatro prepare to open for the new day.

There are many small bakeries, butchers and groceries where we can purchase local foods to snack on in our cozy apartment.

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Lucca has a multitude of restaurant options but we opted for eating in the Piazza where we could get the best view for watching people, enjoy the street performers and get acquainted with a local establishment where the staff treated us exceptionally well. There was probably better food but not a better overall Lucca experience for us. These warm, friendly servers treated us very well allowing us to set at their front row spot on the Piazza Anfiteatro.

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Another Favorite

This wine bar has a great selection of local wines and foods. Motto bene!

Market Day
The city is filled with small shops and larger grocery stores but the “Market Day” is still an interesting experience. Trucks filled with everything you could ever want or need. This is the place the locals shop; often with great frenzied excitement!

Lucca has been a fabulous place for us this week. We felt so at home we decided to do the laundry here. Small town charm with everything a for a traveler to enjoy.

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We are still exploring central Italy for a few more days but for now I leave you with a toast from Bill, enjoying Vin Santo and biscotti.

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Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Moving on – Barcelona to Lucca

You know what? Traveling can be more exciting than your expectations. That is why we suggest good planning, good guide information, patience and a constant heads up!

Due to inconvenience strikes by the French railway system, our train to France was canceled. Due to our planning we were able to figure this out in advance, go over to the train station the day prior to departure and change our ticket to a train that was not being inconvenienced!

We planned to rent our car in France to avoid drop off fees and this all came together very well, I must say.

The first day of the road we traveled to Arles. Arles has a rich Roman history; it sided with Julius Caesar against Pompei. When Caesar emerged victorious Arles became a hot spot rewarded with substantial Roman architecture. Everyone knows now, Caesar was the winning team until Brutus came a long. (“Et tu, Brute?” from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar.)

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The painter Van Gogh also fortified the fame of this town arriving in Arles in F8E14697-D407-4054-A9A2-32B88CA71316February 1888. He was fascinated by the Provençal landscapes, producing over 300 paintings and drawings during his time in Arles. Most are familiar with the “Yellow Cafe” reflective of his bright colors and creative interpretations.

 

 

For us weary travelers, we had a pleasant dinner near the Arles amphitheater and we called it a night.

The next day we headed for the French Riviera; little did we know we landed right in566BE12A-B08B-4F6D-989A-7ACE609EAAD9 the middle of the Cannes Film Festival. Huge yachts, massive crowds and the glorious sunshine of the Côte d’Azur. We did not see anyone more famous than our traveling companion, Bill Fuller. No Kardashian’s or notable celebrities as yet. But they were ready; long processions of police vehicles and red carpet!

Moving on down the coast, we found a fabulous spot in Cagnes-sur-Mer. This might be a good time to explain the “we” in our trip. We are traveling with Gerry and Anita Simpson. I went Junior High School with Gerry and High School with Anita. Great traveling partners and it was Anita who found the sweet place in Cagnes-sur-Mer.

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The next morning I found myself in dire straights with a cough I had been fighting for quite a while. This is the moment folks; try to imagine explaining how you feel to medical personnel who do not speak English. It can happen!

They took good care of me and put me quickly on the road to recovery. The hospital is never a planned stop but when you need it, do it!

On to Italy.

Ciao

Connie

Oh, Barcelona

So let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street
In Barcelona. Las Ramblas, I’ll meet you
We’ll dance around la Sagrada Familia
Drinking Sangria
Come on, let’s be free in Barcelona

Words from Ed Sheeran

Well although it was a little too crowded for dancing in the street or even near the Sagrada Familia, this is an amazing city. It is full of fabulous architecture , new and old, interesting shops, restaurants and a fabulous market. The town is very large and we found our best approach to see the place was with the assistance of an on/off bus. Mostly we stayed on to listen to the commentary and see the sights.

Not to be missed: Sagrada Familia -The Basílica is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). The contruction has continued for many years and is largely funding by private donations and entrance fees to the Basilic and tower. Gaudí’s work is unique and often characterized by a connection to nature with bright colors. As you travel through the city you can find many eye catching examples of Gaudi’s architectural infuence.

Barcelona is one of the world’s leading tourist, economic, trade fair and cultural centres, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. Barcelona’s population in 2016 was 1,608,746 people. This is a big, busy city and with the addition of thousands of tourists, it is very crowded.

 

F98FF3FD-3889-49CB-889D-F1276798DBC7The Columbus Monument is a 60 m (197 ft) tall monument to Christopher Columbus at the lower end of La Rambla.  It was constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona (1888).

And wouldn’t you know it, left-wing councillors in Barcelona have called for the city’s iconic statue to be removed on the grounds that it “praises” the conquest of another nation. What is wrong with maintenance of history for all countries?

 

 

Well, for us, one of the outstanding attractions was the market place St Josep, La Boquera. Buzzing with activity, filled with typical Spanish food and drink.

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There is so much to enjoy in this market, it was a feast for all your senses!

And a group favorite,the Padron Peppers.

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I celebrated my birthday in Barcelona and was treated to a birthday serenade by our traveling companions, Gerry and Anita. Well, they did not do the singing but they found this adorable crooner!

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Next we were entertained by local acrobats flying through the air. Just not any ordinary Birthday!

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I leave you with just a sample of Barcelona. Since I don’t speak Spanish, with little knowledge of the history or art, I felt challenged to truly comrehend the greatness of Barcelona but I encourage anyone interested, to take it on. The people are friendly and helpful and the city has a unique fibe of old, new and future.

adiós mis amigos

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Connie and Bill

 

 

 

2018 – The Big Trip

Yes, this is the year of the Big Trip, or “Bigger Trip” depending how well we are acquainted. Six weeks, 4 days visiting my good friends in South Florida, 14 days on the Norwegian Star crossing the Atlantic Ocean and about 24 days traveling in France and Italy. But more about that later. This is about the cruise!


“Crusin’- on a Sunday afternoon” plus 13 additional days. Yes, 14 days, with 4 good friends, 2,000 strangers, often sailing though what was referred to as moderate to rough seas.

What a marvelous experience. We possibly traced the return trade and exploration trips of Christopher Columbus and the others who came before us. Over the last two weeks, I have often imagined how brave, exciting and terrible those cruises must have been.

For us, this has been a rather luxurious experience filled with good entertainment, pleasant service and of course, an abundance of food (and beverages).

Some think 14 days is too long and others would never even consider a cruise. For me, cruising becomes a floating home away from home. We quickly fall into our regular routines of morning coffee and toast, reading, walking, visiting with friends. Evenings we can enjoy pleasant dinners with out having to do the dishes and a bonus known as the “unlimited beverage package”

I was able to read three complete novels, enjoy long soaks in the spa and most days, log miles on the promenade deck. And did I mention the Unlimited Beverage Package!

At night I was rocked to sleep by the “moderate” roll of the ocean. I wonder if a regular bed will ever be enough going forward. We all should be so gently rocked to sleep.

Ports of Call:

Azores- Ponta Delgado
If you saw the movie Jumanji, Welcome to the Jungle, you can imagine the vast poly-volcanic craters that exist on these islands which form an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean; green, lush, warm and proudly Portuguese. As I understand it, the tourists and milk cows vie for the top economic contributions of this island.

This is truly a beautiful place with dramatic landscapes and friendly people.

Lisbon
Long on my bucket list, we opted for a bus tour to see as much as possible in our limited time. Now I have learned I was actually wanting a trip through Portugal, small seaside villages and tastings port in Porto. What do we have if not constant additions and corrections to that bucket list.

 

Cadiz, Spain
This is the oldest continually inhabited city in Western Europe and home port to the Spanish Navy. We opted for visiting the nearby resort town of Sanlucar which is a summer tourist destination famous for Manzanilla (Fino Sherry) and prawns. Bill’s professor at UC Davis visited the fine restaurant of Casa Bigote 56 years ago and Bill has had this on his bucket list ever since. Fresh Seafood and local wines. Truly a memorable experience.

Malaga, Spain
With a population of over 500,00, this coastal town has much to offer. Along the coast you will find hillsides of beautiful, whitewash homes, picturesque ocean views and not far from Malaga we found some amazing caves to tour.

Alicante, Spain
This town, located on the Costa Blanca, is uniquely remarkable with the most notable feature of the city, the Castle of Santa Bárbara, siting high above the city, and the port of Alicante. This could be a city worth a second and third visit!

And finally, the Norwegian Star bring us to our final port, Barcelona. But that, my friends, will be another story. It is late andthis internet connection is painfully slow. I hope you enjoyed these ports of call.

Happy Trails
Connie

Life’s Connections

On Facebook, I posted a picture of three “older” ladies with umbrellas kicking up their heels. One even has a small, black and white dog on a leash. That could be us before the passing of my sweet Emma.

img_4698I posted the picture because I liked it. The ladies appear happy and they seem to be sharing a happy moment together. It’s the goal. So let’s go beyond the Facebook “Friends” we make with a click and take a moment to honor the true friends we love.

With the changes in my life, (retirement, moving) my good (and old) friends are a bit geographically rearranged. This means I have to travel to see my out of town friends and make the effort to connect with my local friends.

The caption on the picture is “It takes a long time to grow an old friend. Make sure to treasure them”. Well, maybe enough said, but when I break it down, I interpret “old friend” as “good friend”. In the last few years, I have made some “new friends” that are just as close as the “old friends”. So maybe it does not take a long time to grow old friends.

I think I would rewrite this phase as follows: It takes time to grow good friends. Make sure to treasure them”.

I would also add: “it takes time to grow one’s self as a person, as friend.”

Through-out one’s life, it is the basic human condition to connect with other humans. Many of these connections we are lucky to consider to be our friends.

When we are grade school age, we tend to make friends with the neighbor kids or the one sitting next to you in the third grade. These are the basis for many life long connections. But as your personal life evolves, you become involved in special interests, a sport or a relationship and these original friends may drift away or settle in the background, ready to catch up through out your life’s journey. These are “good friends” and “old friends”, the older we get!

Once out in the real world, we attract a new set of friends; work colleagues, someone living near you and friends with similar interests and life style.

The mystery of the “love connection” as filled volumes of books, discussed over countless adult beverages and still we often don’t understand our own attractions. I think the friendship connection is just as complex. In addition to “old friends”, and “good friends” I would like to introduce the concept of an “intimate friend”. This is a rare individual that can grace our lives with great value. I am blessed with friends that I treasure, “old”, “good” and/or “intimate”, they are a big part of life’s journey.

Just one more type of friend I would like to mention. The “effortless” friend. The one you go weeks, months and maybe years without seeing but when you get together, well it’s just like old times, or is it? The time you spend with friends, the ideas you share and the resulting tears and laughter enhances our lives. I think the bottom line here is for us all to be a “old”, “good” friend to those we share our life with.

To you my friends, I love you all!

Cheers

Connie

I HAVE MOVED

In 2017 I moved EVERYTHING!

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My mother passed away in December 2016 and in January I found myself moving into a new stage of life without my sweet mother’s love, sound advise and presence in my life. I miss her every day. She continues to be an influence in my life. She was smart, gracious and loved by many. Life is very different without her.

 

 

 

In April of 2017 I retired. I had worked at Hollywood Woodwork Inc for 10 years. Some doubted I would be able to retire but I succeeded in moving my focus from work to life. I think I might have been a little better at working than focusing on life but I am new at this. I will get better. I miss my friends at work everyday. It is a big move when one retires. It changes who you are or who you identify to be. I was a financial operations person who commuted from Portland, OR to Hollywood, FL 9 to 10 times a year. Now I am not!IMG_3035

The fantastic beautiful Hollywood Woodwork Business Ops Team

fullsizeoutput_62dIn August of 2017 we lost our beautiful Papillon, Emma. This has created a new reality for us. With Emma we always considered her comfort and care every time we walked out the door. She was a constant part of our life. We have now moved into a life style where we can walk out the door without looking for the leash. Loosing Emma saddened me beyond belief.

In the first week of December, we made our final move. We sold the condo we have lived in for 10 years. People like to tell you that moving is never fun. They are right.

But we love our new home; we have a great view and very nice neighbors. It all came to together as if meant to be.

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I am ready for 2018. I am ready to enjoy the time to share my life with my family and friends. I am ready to Improve my “focus” on life and become a better person. That will surely help me reach the success I desire and keep me moving though this journey called life.

In 2017 I MOVED.

Bare Necessities

22523AEA-49A2-43D5-A29E-158E7EFA0C91I love planning a trip, packing for a trip and heading out the door on my next adventure. Mind you I am not talking about safaris, National Geographic excursions or back packing along the Appalachian trail. No, my travel involves trips to France, Italy, and the occasional cruise. Tame by some standards but challenging as well.

For the most part, my travels do not present imminent danger, but they do require some bare necessities. There can be obstacles to face, decisions on logistics, where to go, how to get there and where to stay are critical.

Often my solution is to delegate: I let my husband sort through the multitude of travel guides and on-line resources to narrow options down to a reasonable list. It gives him purpose to his retired life style and he loves doing it. We don’t require fancy accommodations; a good location that is clean and safe can suit our needs. Yet, when traveling internationally, there can still be unplanned situations calling for forward-thinking travel savvy.

I am only fluent in my native English language but have made a good effort in learning the basics in French, Italian and German to maintain proper greetings and ask for directions. Two suggestions for those planning your first trip to anywhere.

Learn the words for foods you do not like to eat. This will save you uncomfortable gastronomic experiences when served a meatloaf in a pig’s belly vs the pork chop you expected.

Learn how to ask for directions.

Où sont les toilettes s’il vous plaît?
Per favore, puoi dirmi dove è il gabinetto?
Bitte, wo ist die Toilette?

Yes, simple little phases that can make your life much more comfortable no matter where you are! Keep in mind, once you have mastered these phases, your challenge is far from over. You will need to take careful note of the hand signal directions and quick words returned in answer to your question. Often, I would recommend a repeat of the hand signals just to confirm you got it. If the moment is urgent you do not want to head off in the wrong direction.

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In a small (or huge) town, using the WC of a restaurant should not be a problem. It is recommended that you become a patron of the establishment before you embark on your search for the restroom. We think it is worth the price of a café, a glass of wine or beer to avoid using the public toilets or a big tree.

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Once you have located your destination, you will need to figure out the facilities which can have varying degrees of complexity, cleanliness or lack thereof. All obstacles that can make or break the moment. For example, there is one style of toilet where you push a button and the seat cover automatically advances to a clean spot. To avoid injury, don’t sit down until it stops.

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One of the more interesting facilities has two places for your feet with a hole in the middle. This unit is great for practicing your aim while attempting to keep your clothes out of the target area. It may take some getting used to but you have no worries of a dirty seat cover! My advice, ladies, do not travel in a jumpsuit. You will never get out of it in time to use this type of toilet!

 

 

Beyond these standards, there are facilities with no toilet seat, I suggest hovering on this one. Occasionally there may be pay toilets, have your change ready.

On my recent trip to Germany, my friend Christl gave me a handful of change. It came in handy more than I expected to gain access to the WC or to pay a hovering attendant for a scrap of toilet tissue.

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You might run into public facilities where the men and women’s restrooms are very close together. I say, get in, do your business and get out.

Last but not to be overlooked, are the hotels with the bathroom down the hall, I avoid these accommodations.

 

One final complication to moments of urgency are the roadside conveniences. It is more common all the time to find large, clean facilities on major highways. But if you are traveling what we call the scenic goat roads, you may go miles beyond your capacity to hold it. During one experience, my husband was set on showing me a most interesting cemetery. I mean no disrespect to the dead but I did find a quiet, clean little spot beyond the cemetery stonewall to make my peace.

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Traveling anywhere can be an adventure. Before the call of nature becomes the call of the wild, remember there is relief on the road ahead. Just be prepared with realistic expectations to meet the challenges of your “bare necessities”.

 

Hooray for HOLLYWOOD

Yes, that’s right. When I was a young girl living in Portland, Oregon, I dreamed of working in Hollywood. I never considered what talent I might possess, I just wanted to work in Hollywood.

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I pictured myself as a mousketeer or maybe on The Lassie Show, The Roy Rodgers Show or even Rin-tin-tin. The nostalgia of remembering these shows is amazing, if you are old enough to remember them. (SD)

Think of all the stars that got their start on the Mickey Mouse Club. Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, just to name a few. Well, obviously my name is not among this group.

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My destiny was headed in a different direction.

There is a movie and now a common quote: “Be careful what you wish for”. Well, you see, my childhood wish was rather non-specific and I never knew there was a Hollywood, Florida!

Yes,, I ended up working in Hollywood, Florida, not Hollywood, California. In 2006 I began a 10 year working relationship with Hollywood Woodwork, Inc.

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Looking back, it is interesting to me that I was sure I did not want to work for a woodworking company. But I came on site to help them with a software implementation and literally fell in love with the people, the work ethic and the beautiful creations they produced.

This relationship was a career high for me.

The job of Controller for Hollywood Woodwork had it’s challenges. The biggest hurdle was that I wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest and this job is in Florida. I was grateful to be living in a time of improved technology and working with a team that understood the potential value of a remote employee.

So, I lived in Vancouver, Washington and worked in HOLLYWOOD. I commuted between the west and east coasts and over my tenure, we grew a great team of accounting and IT professionals. At the same time I made life long friends.

In April of 2017 I made a difficult decision to retire. This decision was supported by management and made possible by the incredible team that we had built. And what a team. From Top to bottom, this group is dedicated and committed to SUCCESS.

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Our inspiring CEO, Yves

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The fabulous Business Operations Team: Sebastien, Leo, Doreen, Eileen, Ruben, Gina, Connie and Janice

Since April, I have let distance come between most of these relationships. It is a piece of my life I miss but I am working on building my “retired” life in Vancouver. It is important for me to maintain this connection and  with the encouragement of my “boss” (SD), I will be visiting Florida at least once a year. This means so much to me and I look forward to keeping my ties to HOLLYWOOD alive.

And just one last very important mention of my Florida Wine Therapy Group, meeting regularly to solve the problems of the world with a glass of wine or two! We used to call this “ladies night” out but “Wine Therapy Group” sounded so much more appropriate.

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Lois, Doreen, Connie, Sofiya, Melissa, and Sharon. Missing from the picture is Eileen. These are truly ladies you can count on!


Hooray for HOLLYWOOD Woodwork and everyone involved in transforming inspired designs into extraordinary projects. There are many more stars on the Hollywood Team than I have mentioned. It is an honor to have been part of the entire group.

Route du Vin

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I have to admit, on our trips we may be on a Route de la Chèvre, but we are ALWAYS on the Route du Vin. Traveling with Bill, a seasoned traveler and  knowledgeable winemaker, he often guides our travels into food and wine decadence.

 

 

 

Bill, Nancy and most of our wine drinking friends prefer a dry wine experience. As a lesson in wine selection, the label or your server should provide you with some basic information: vintage, grape variety, origin and whether the product is dry or off dry. Here are some clues for searching for a dry wine.

France – Vin sec
Germany – Trocken wine
Italy – Vino secco
USA – Dry

From there you can match your choices to your varietal tastes and budget. For myself, I put down my menu and ask Bill to select something I will like. He is seldom wrong on this.

Beginning our trip in Bavaria, Bill spent an afternoon chatting with a charming Winzer or wine grower. The topics are all similar wherever we go, climate, soil conditions and environmental threats to the grapes.

German Wine Law requires 6 items to be included on the label. Unfortunately vintage and grape variety are not required. The best option is to decide white or red and the level of “Trocken” you desire.

We came home with two bottles of German wine, a Riesling and a Merlot from Gehrig in Weisenheim am Sand and the labels were clear that the Riesling was “Trocken” or dry and the Merlot is a Blanc (White) de Noir.

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We are both looking forward to tasting the Merlot. The Riesling we might save for a warm summer afternoon.

 

 

 

Alsatian wines are unique and some of “Bill’s favorites”. We visited the Wolfberger Winery in Eguisheim which has a beautiful tasting room, Sipp Mack in Hunawihr and a few others along the way. From Alsace we brought home a Riesling and several bottles of Gewürztraminer. The Gewürztraminer with a little creme d’ cassis makes a fabulous Kir, a popular aperitif at our house.

Incidentally, on the back label of the Alsatian wines, there is a chart which helps you identify the level of “vin sec”. Very helpful.

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The Burgundian wines, mainly chardonnay and Pinot Noir are typically sorted out by the area the grapes are sourced from. A single winery can produce Grand Cru, Premier Cru and a Village wine. We were able to taste all levels of wine on our visit to Imaginarium in Nuits-Saint-Georges, where they had a cruvinet that allowed us to taste some higher end wines.

 

It is possible to also look for opportunities in restaurants that might be serving some better wines by the glass. We like to confirm the bottles are stored correctly, optimally in a machine that will protect the open wine from oxidation. The O’Chateau wine bar in Paris offers a great selection of wines by the glass at all price levels and a knowledgeable server to explain the source and characteristics of the wine.

IMG_0158As far as what we like, our go to wine of choice is a Cotes du Rhone. It is reasonably priced and most of the time proves to be a good pairing to the food we enjoy. Our white wine selections are typically a higher priced variety and a special treat for us. Sancere is a particular favorite from the western part of the Loire Valley, primarily associated with Sauvignon blanc.

While considering your wine palate, think of your preferences of dry or sweet, red or white, grape variety and when you have the bottle in hand, be sure the read the label, front and back. There is always something to learn.

A couple of other beverages I also enjoyed along the way.

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The “Tango” or “Monaco” – Beer with a splash of grenadine or in this case a BIG beer. Some also have French Lemonade added to them.

 

 

 

 

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The Aperol Spritz – Aperol with prosecco or sparkling water and an orange slice. Yum!

 

 

 

 

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The very popular double espresso

 

 

 

 

And when you just are not sure of what you want, there is always this fall-back from home available down the street with free WIFI.

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Cheers!