Jan & Dave’s Excellent European Adventure

Many of you have wanted to know some details about our Excellent European Adventure…

Our trip began with 4 days in London, which included a tour of Buckingham Palace;  punting on the river in Cambridge, high tea at Herrods, and visits to numerous English pubs!  We stayed with friends in their 500-year old farmhouse.  Derek and Carole are the epitome of hospitable hosts!

We then traveled by high speed train (through the chunnel) to Bruegge and Brussels, Belgium.  Bruegge is a lovely medieval village with horse drawn carriages clicking over ancient cobblestone streets.  Brussels is a very cosmopolitan, beautiful city.  Do you know that fine chocolates can be found everywhere in Brussels?  And there are little kiosks where you can enjoy a glass of champagne, right there on the street!  I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven, until we tried a Belgium waffle!  I now believe there will be Belgium waffles in Heaven!

Paris was next on our stop.  We stayed within walking distance of the Arc de Triomphe.  As soon as we settled into our hotel, we started walking.  We covered most of the major attractions in Paris by mastering the subway and bus system and by WALKING.  Many of you may know that because of Dave’s arthritis, he hates to walk!  But he was a trooper.  We climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, but NOT the Eiffel Tower. (He did have some limits!)  We found Paris to have extraordinarily beautiful architecture, incredible works of art, fantastic food….and lots of people. If you’re going to Paris and want a romantic place to stay, we encourage you to consider the Hotel Banville, where the innkeeper, who is also a recording artist, entertains guests in the lobby on Tuesday nights!

After 4 days in Paris, we rented a car and headed for the Reims region of France (read champagne!), on to Verdun where we visited a memorial built for American soldiers who fought in World War I.  It was awesome.  After spending the night and dining at a true French Château, we headed for Baden Baden Germany, which is famous for its ancient therapeutic spas and “James Bond” style casino!  After driving through the Swiss Alps (breathtakingly beautiful), we stopped for the night in Gruyere Switzerland, another medieval village high in the mountains.  We stayed in The Hotel Fleur-de-Lys – Dave couldn’t believe when he found it on the internet!  After a meal of cheese fondue and Swiss meringues, we strolled through the town singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music!”  We got some pretty strange stares from people…

After more driving through many tunnels and switchbacks in the Alps, we finally entered Italy.  There is so much to tell about Italy, and I’ve probably lost most of you already.  So let me just mention the places we visited:

  • Portofino (a ritzy place on the Mediterranean)
  • Florence (where I bought 2! Leather coats)
  • Venice (it turned cold and rained while we were there)

Soriano nel Cimino is a medieval city in the mountains north of Rome where they were celebrating the “Chestnut Festival.”  The town was decked out with flags and banners, and there was a re-enactment of the history of Soriano with groups dressed in period clothing representing all the kingdoms that have ruled over the centuries.)

We stayed in Soriano for a week and were able to take day trips to places like Siena, Chianti, Moltepulciano, Montelchino, and Oriveta.  Naturally there was a bit of wine consumed in these wine regions!  We also took the train into Rome one day for a guided tour of the Vatican.

Some of our most enjoyable days were spent in Ghivizzano Toscana Italy visiting with friends Rusty and Pepper, who own the Casa La Pace B&B.  If you are traveling to Tuscany, do yourself a favor and look into staying at Casa La Pace!

The last two nights we spent in Rome.  Dave likes to plan our trips so that the last night is spent at a truly luxurious place.  This time it was the Hilton Rome Hotel Cavalieri.  Aggettivo stupendo!

We had such a wonderful time, but 35 days was a long time to be away from our beloved families and the Fleur-de-Lys.  We give thanks to Vickie and Jazmin who did a fabulous job of operating the Mansion in our absence.  We can’t tell you what a blessing it is to count Jazmin and Vickie as part of our Fleur-de-Lys family!

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