Saturday, 3 May 2014

Châteaux of the Loire, Part Three

Here's our third and the final in the series of blog posts about our week-long visit in the Loire Valley. 

  • You can read Part One here 
  • And Part Two here.

Château de Cheverny

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Château-Hopping in the Loire Valley, Part Two

Next to our love for train rides in Europe, the Big K and I also enjoy road trips. We love speeding on autobahns or autoroutes, motoring along back country roads, traipsing from one picturesque village to another while trying to figure out what-the-heck-does-that-road-sign mean and all the other joys (and hair-raising excitement!) of driving.

And since the châteaux of the Loire are spread out in a large area, they are better reached by a car. Yup! Definitely a road trip here. In our week long excursion (well, 6 days to be exact), we had set our sights on the châteaux located along the central part of the Loire that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site (it would have been physically impossible to see all 300+ châteaux in the little time that we had). We wished we could have stayed longer.

We ended up visiting ten impressive châteaux. I know of some people who would cram so much things to see in such a short time but the Big K and I prefer to take our time sightseeing. You could say we're the step-back-and-enjoy-the-moment kind of travelers.

Château De Chenonceau

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Château-hopping in the Loire Valley!

It was a cool, sunny morning when the Orient Express pulled into Gare de l'Est in Paris. Perfect timing as the Big K and I had just finished breakfast that was served in our cabin. Much as we wanted to linger on board we had another train to catch. After retrieving our bags with the help of our très gentil steward, saying our goodbyes and more last minute picture-taking with the blue and gold train, the Big K and I hurriedly hopped on the metro to get to Gare Montparnasse to catch the TGV that would take us to our next adventure - Château-hopping in the Loire Valley!

Hôtel de Ville de Tours (Town Hall of Tours) 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Glass and Lace, the Islands of Murano and Burano

Our day trip to the islands of Murano and Burano was a welcome respite from the tourist-filled sestiere of San Marco. Although the two islands get their own share of visitors, it wasn't as bustling (well, not during the time we were there anyway) as busy San Marco.

The picture-perfect colorful houses of Burano.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Venice, Italy

Our recent trip to Europe this year was extra special because it was the Big K's golden birthday treat (though his birthday isn't until June). If you are a regular visitor to our blog you already know that the Big K and I are big on celebrations. No, not the party kind of celebration but the going-away-someplace-special kind of celebration. We always try to make it a point to go somewhere to spend our birthdays and anniversaries. Uh-huh! Itchy feet we have. 

And as luck would have it or one can also say it was an early birthday gift as the Big K was given more time off from work than we had originally planned for. We were able to stretch our trip to 3-weeks adding two more cities to visit on our original itinerary. Ah! The beauty of DIYing one's trip! 

First stop, Italy.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Venice Simplon Orient-Express

We love taking the trains in Europe. It may not always be the fastest way to get from point A to point B, and sometimes the WCs leave a bit to be desired (sometimes a lot to be desired, something the Big K and I are sensitive about. It's a thing of ours) but there is just something special about train rides. It might be the gentle swaying of the cars or the peculiar click-clack of the wheels against the rails or sometimes the beautiful scenery shooting by (and in some cases it does shoot. France's TGV does 300+ kms/hour).

The Big K and I always talked about how it must have been to travel in the early years of train rides, in particular the golden age of train travel of the 1920s and 30s. And of course there is that matter of Agatha Christie's famous detective, Hercule Poirot in the Murder on the Orient Express that added to the intrigue of train travel.

The Orient-Express. A name that brings to mind the luxury and glamour of train travel. We'd always promised ourselves that one day we would hitch a ride on the Orient-Express. 

And guess what? That day has arrived!
The distinctive blue and gold livery of the Venice Simplon Orient-Express train.

Monday, 10 March 2014

La Route des Vins D'Alsace (The Alsace Wine Route) Part Deux

What does New York City and the town of Colmar in France have in common? 

Answer: The Statue of Liberty. 


The capital of Alsatian Wine (capitale des Vins D'Alsace), Colmar, is the birthplace of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty in New York. 

The statue of Lady Liberty as you may already know is a gift of the people of France to the United States of America. 
A replica of the Statue of Liberty can be seen at the roundabout at Colmar's northern entrance to commemorate the 100th death anniversary of its creator, Monsieur Bartholdi.