Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Hi all. Janice here with our last blog post. Believe it or not we are leaving for home on Saturday, Nov 17th. We will leave for Germany tomorrow. Here is what we did in the last two days. Tuesday,Nov 13th - When we woke up there were clouds over the mountains but we decided to go to Stans anyway to go up the mountain. We drove to Stans and took the funicular halfway up and then a double decker gondola up to the top of Stanserhorn. The gondola had a spiral staircase in the middle and you could go up to the top and stand in the open air. There was a railing around but no roof. It is the only one of its kind in the world. The views from the top were fantastic. There was a lot of low lying cloud but at the top of the mountain it was nice and sunny and warm. We had a traditional Swiss lunch, basically macaroni and potato with cheese in a fondue pot. It was very good. For the four of us, it cost 95.50 francs (including a small bottle of wine). We drove back to the rental and later Ed and Sharon went to the hotel so Ed could go in the sauna and Sharon rode the bike. They were going to pick up pizza at a restaurant and bring it back for dinner but it was closed so they picked up some frozen pizza at the grocery store. Wednesday, Nov 14th - We woke up to clouds on the mountains again but decided to go to Mt Pilatus anyway. We drove down to the boat, took the boat to Lurcerne, got a bus to Kriens. We took a small gondola halfway up the mountain, then we took a much larger gondola to the very top of Mt. Platus. There were two hotels up at the top. Beautiful views. We took the world's steepest cogwheel railway down the mountain to the very bottom and then a regular train back to Lucerne. We had dinner in Lucerne, did some window shopping and took the train to Brunnen and then the boat back to Seelisberg. The whole day didn't cost us anything as we had bought a Tell Pass the week before and that gave us 2 free days of travel on boats, trains and buses and half price on 3 other days. The pass certainly was a good buy, it paid for itself and more. Well I hope you have enjoyed our adventures in Europe and we well see you soon. We have seen a lot, been to several countries but we wouldn't want to live anywhere else but Canada. Bye for now. GO LIONS GO!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Hi all.  Guess who?  I am sending some photos of our first few days in Switzerland.

All of the above pictures are views from the window of our rental
   house.  The picturese don't do the view justice.
                                            The funicular we took to go down to the boat
                                           View from the boat on Lake Lucerne
                                          View from the boat on Lake Lucerne
                                          On the train going up to Mount Rigi
                                           View from the train
                                           At the top of the mountain
                                          Another unposed photo
                                               And another
                                           The covered bridge in Lucerne.  Unfortunately there
                                           were no flowers on it at this time of year.
                                           Inside a church in Lucerne
                                             Lion carved out of a solid rock hillside

                                           Ed & Sharon coming back from their walk.
                                            Lori by a floral dispay in Brunnen
                                            Waiting for the boat back to our house
                                           99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer, oops
                                           I mean wine.  After a few days in Switzerland
                                           Sharon & Lori and I out for a walk
                                             Our fondue
Hi all.  Janice here.  Sending our almost last blog post.  

Friday, Nov 9th -  We drove to Beckenried and had a nice lunch at Restaurant Rossli and then went shopping in Stans.  We picked up some groceries and headed back to our rental.  We took a wrong turn and headed inland before we got out Beulah (our GPS) and realized we were headed in the wrong direction.  We got turned around and made it back.  We made a nice dinner, with wine of course, and played some cards.

Saturday, Nov 10th -  It was a cloudy day so we decided not to head up the mountain and instead drove a few minutes down to the boat dock and caught the boat to Brunnen a small town only a few minutes away by boat.  We wandered around, exploring and doing a bit of shopping and had lunch at a German style restaurant.  We had a very good 3 course meal for 18 swiss francs each.  In case you don't know this, it is very expensive in Switzerland, especially in restaurants, so 18 francs each was 'cheap'.   We stopped at a side walk cafe for coffee and drinks while we waited for the boat to go back to Seelisberg.  I decided to go for a walk and so didn't get a drink.  When I got back I found that Ed had ordered a rye and gingerale and it cost 12.50 francs (the francs are worth more than our dollar)   Sharon had a coffee and Lori had a red wine at cost of 16.80 francs. I  was glad I had not ordered anything.  While we were waiting for the boat, the wind picked up quite a bit and the waves were crashing on to the shore.  The boat had to tie up at a different area so we were transported by car to the boat (it was only a few minutes away).  We got back to the rental, relaxed, had a light supper and wine, of course, and played some more cards.

Sunday, Nov 11th -  It was a rainy day so we decided to have a 'down' day and just stay in.  We read, watched some TV, played cards, did laundry, went for a walk.  Later in the afternoon Ed and Sharon drove to the village of Seelisberg.  Ed wanted to find out if he could use the sauna at the hotel.
The lady at the hotel said he could and she would turn it on and have it  ready for 5PM.
Ed also went to the Tell restaurant and spoke to the owner/chef and asked if they did a swiss fondue.  He said yes but he would need some notice.  Ed said how about 7:30PM and the owner said how about 7PM.

We all went to the spa but Ed was the only one to use the sauna.  The rest of us sat in a lounge area and read.  From the hotel we went to the restaurant and found out that the main part of the restaurant was closed and there was a table set up just for us in the bar area.  The table was nicely decorated.  We ordered a small bottle of white wine to go with the fondue.  We got a basket of new potatoes and a basket of cubed bread.  The fondue had two sections in it with 2 different types of cheese.  It was very good.  (they went out of their way for us, serving us after they were closed).  It was an experience but an expensive one.  For a small bottle of wine and the potatoes and bread it was 106 francs and Ed gave him 130 francs because they had gone out of their way for us. 

Monday, November 12th -  It was a cloudy, grey day.  We decided to drive to the small town of Brunnen to do a bit of shopping and then go to Lucerne.  In Lucerne we had lunch at an Irish pub and then Janice, Sharon and Lori went shopping while Ed read his book in the car.  After a couple of hours shopping we headed back to the rental.  Lori and I played cards and watched TV while Ed and Sharon went back to the hotel in Seelisberg.  Ed used the sauna while Sharon used the exercise bike and read.  When they got back we had dinner, watched Rambo on TV and then played some cards. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Hi all. Janice here again.  I am sending some photos of our last days in France and a few from Switzerland.  Soon I will be sending the last post and photos.  It is hard to believe but ourholiday is almost over.
                                           La Maison Bleue our bed and breakfast in Girard, France
                                           We had a private tour of a winery arranged by Phil our
                                            B&B host.  It was very interesting and we bought some
                                            very good, reasonably priced wine.
                                           A castle like building on our way to Padirac Chasm  
                                           French deer
                                     Looking down at Padirac Chasm - it is a very, very long
                                     way down
                                         Looking up from Padirac Chasm - it is a very, very
                                         long way up.
                                           City of Rocamourdor - built on the side of a rock
                                           Ed & Sharon in front of fountain in Lyon, France
                                           Beautiful building in the square in Lyon   
                                           Our rental(a converted barn) in Lorringes, France
                                          A building by the river in Geneva, Switzerland
                                          On the way to Seelisberg, Switzerland, beautiful scenery
                                           Terraced vineyards in Lousanne, Switzerland
                                           Beautiful mountain view in Lousanne
                                          Living room of our rental in Seelisberg
                                          Looking at other end of the living room and kitchen table.
                                          Beautiful house overlooking Lake Lurcerne with 3 bedrooms,
                                          2 bathrooms.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Hi all. Janice here again with our next installment.  When last we wrote we had arrived at our rental near Geneva (but we were still in France, a small town called Larringes).

Tuesday, Nov 6th - Guess what?  We woke up to snow.  It wasn't much but it was snow.  By the time we had breakfast and then left to go to Geneva the snow had all melted.  Geneva is a big city with lots of traffic.  We found a place to park and set out to explore a bit.  We stopped to have wine and cheese at a bar and also did some window shopping (couldn't find anything to buy).
We picked up some groceries on our way back to the rental and Ed cooked us dinner.

Wednesday, Nov 7th - We set off for our rental house in Volligen, Switzerland.  We travelled through some beautiful country, the mountains are magnificent.  We stopped in a small town and went to the only restaurant we could find and had chinese food.  It was very good.  We arrived at our rental house about 5:30PM.  We found the key in the mailbox and let ourselves in.  It is a very nice place and it overlooks Lake Lucerne with mountains all around.  Absolutely stunning.  After getting settled, we drove to a small town close by for dinner. 

Thursday, Nov 8th-  We got up, had breakfast and drove to the train station which was right next to the restaurant we were at the night before.  We got a Tell Pass which gives us unlimted travel for 2 days and 50% off for 5 other days.  We took the incline rail train down to the water and then got on a boat (boats are like our ferries to the Island but on a smaller scale).  We got off a few stops later,  transferred to another boat and got off in Vitznau to take a train up to the top of Mount Rigi.  Great views of Lucerne and the mountains and valleys. After a short stay at the top we headed back down and got on a boat to Lucerne.  We wandered around Lucerne for couple of hours, we showed Ed and Sharon the covered bridge, the beautiful church and the lion carved out of the side of a rock.  We ended up in Starbucks for coffee so we could use their internet and caught the 4:15PM boat back to our place.  The mountains, the colours of the trees, the towns are all so picturesque.   It was a very nice day.  We had dinner at the villa and played cards.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November 3, 2012 - Saturday
Sharon here, We are on the road to our next destination, Girard, France.  We traveled mostly on secondary highways and passed through some very interesting medieval towns and through the beautiful Lot Valley.  There were many orchards with fruit trees and the vineyards were starting to be seen.  We are staying in a 'Gite' at a B&B called La Maison Bleue.  This home was built in 1900 and considered to be new by French standards.  The couple that own the B&B, Phil and Pauline had arranged a wine tasting tour even though all the wineries are closed at this time of the year.  We met with a gentleman, Cameron, who manages the Chateau de Touzeau a small family owned vineyard of approximately 4 acres.  Cameron has won several awards for his wines and he was more than happy to share some with us.  For those of you who love red wine, this winery is in the Cahors region where the Malbec grapes are grown.  Excellent wine!  We also stopped at a shop and purchased some walnut oil - between the red wine and the walnut oil, we think we'll be healthy and live a long happy life!  Phil cooked us a typical North Americian dinner, roast chicken, roasted potatoes and broccoli and cauliflower and apple pie and ice cream for dessert and of course all the red wine we could enjoy.
November 4, 2012 - Sunday
We drove to the Padirac Chasm today.  This is a very large chasm - 103m deep and dates back to the 14th century.  We walked down the steps until we reached the river at the bottom, got in a boat and floated down the river until we reached the end of the river and were then taken on a guided tour of the caves.  Unfortunately it was all in French so we didn't understand much of what our guide was saying, but it was really very interesting to see the formations.  We then got back in the boat and floated back up the river.  We had to climb stairs until we came to a landing where we could either continue our climb on the stairs or take an elevator to the top - we chose the elevator - actually we had to take three different ones to get to the top.  We then drove back to Rocamourdor which is an ancient city craved out of the side of a very high mountain.  We had hoped to have a nice lunch there, but discovered that the restaurants closed at 2:30pm and it was just after that so we were lucky
enough to find a cafe that served buckwheat crepes and they hit the spot.
November 5, 2012 - Monday
We were up early to travel to our next destination which is near Geneva, France.  Phil cooked us a very nice breakfast and we were on our way.  We were prepared for a long day of travel and so combined the secondary highways with the freeways and we still managed to make a 7 hour trip into a 12 hour one.  We once again wound through some beautiful old villages and through a valley that was dotted with estate type homes and gardens.  The south of France is very beautiful!  We stopped in Lyon, France and walked around the city to stretch our legs. We went into an Irish pub and enjoyed some beverages and also stopped at a cafe for some take away before heading back to the car.  The city was totally chaotic - it seemed everyone was leaving at exactly the same time to go home.  With the help of Beulah we were able to get onto the correct freeway system heading to Switzerland.  We thought we had given Beulah the correct address, but it seems she needed more than just a street name.....!  We actually only had a picture of the house where we were going to be staying - it was dark and we were up a mountain and out in the country!  We stopped at a house that
looked like the picture we had and were told that the one we wanted was just down the road.  We had
to let ourselves in because the owners were just getting back from England so we made ourselves at
home and were drinking wine and playing cards when they finally arrived home just after 10:00pm

Hi all.  Here are some photos of our time in Arcachon, France and Sharon will be sending another installment of the blog soon.

                                               A church in a small town somewhere in France
                                        The lighthouse at Cap Ferrett
                                      Looking across from Cap Ferrett to the largest sand
                                      dune in Europe
                                            Janice at the Point of Cap Ferrett
                                       Ed totally unposed at the Point at Cap Ferrett
                                        Lori also unposed
                                       A view of the dining/living room of our Arcachon apartment
                                       The casino in Arcachon. Lori and Janice went in but
                                       did not gamble at all.  Not as nice on the inside as it is
                                           on the outside.
                                      A two level merry-go-round on the pier in Arcachon
                                      A view of the largest sand dune in Europe. Stairs lead to
                                           the top.
                                       We had lunch on the dune
                                       Heading back down.
                                       It was a long way down.
                                       An old church in the middle of the town of Bordeaux
                                        A beautiful bed of chrysanthmums in front of the old church

                                                                        Ed showing his muscles, in mean mussels.