Category Archives: France

2014 In the Rear View Mirror

I can’t believe that I retired over 2 years ago. When this August 1st came along, I didn’t even realize that it was my retirement anniversary until I remembered it a week or so later. As I did last year, I wanted to share a review of 2014.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2014

We brought in the New Year in Fort Collins with our boys (Cameron and Ryan). We got to learn more about Fort Collins and spent some quality time with the boys. Cameron and I skied Breckenridge and had a great time.

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir

Cameron skiing

Cameron skiing

In February, we returned to Florida with much warmer weather than we had experienced in Colorado. We took some day trips a couple hours away to visit Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, and Cape San Blas. I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm days.

Cape San Blas

Cape San Blas

Sunset on Scenic 30A

Sunset on Scenic 30A

Spring 2014

For Spring Break, we returned to Fort Collins.  Now that it was warming up a bit, we were able to hike and cycle the numerous scenic trails.

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Cycling the Poudre Trail

Hiking Fort Collins

Hiking Fort Collins

We also got out and explored the Fort Collins breweries. While visiting the local brew houses, we met some new friends (Doug and Julie) — they are also into craft breweries.

Pateros Creek Brewery

Pateros Creek Brewery

Tour of Funkwerks

Tour of Funkwerks

Summer 2014

Our youngest son, Ryan, decided that he wanted to take the summer off and transfer from Colorado State University to the University of Florida. Since he was taking the summer off, we decided to travel to Europe for the summer. Our oldest son, Cameron, was working during the summer, so he stayed in Ft. Collins. This was the first time we had traveled with Ryan since we retired, it was a great way to spend the summer.

Paris, France

We spent 2 weeks in Paris, renting a small apartment just down the street from the Arch de Triomphe. We explored all that the city had to offer, visiting all of the major attractions and taking excursions to the French country side, visiting wineries and chateaus.

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

Back entry to the Chateau

Chateau

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Spain

After leaving Paris, we flew to Barcelona, Spain.  We stayed in Spain for about a month and was able to visit Montserrat and Costa Brava.

Costa Brava

Costa Brava

Montserrat

Montserrat

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Park Guell in Barcelona Spain

Barcelona Beach

Barcelona Beach

Our Spain trip was scheduled around the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, where we had front row seats from a balcony overlooking the festival. It was incredibly fun.

Ryan all dressed up

Ryan all dressed up

Running of the Bulls

Running of the Bulls

We capped off our visit to Spain by visiting Valencia, Madrid, Laguardia, and Bilbao.

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Flamenco Dancing

Flamenco Dancing in Madrid

Laguardia Spain

Laguardia Spain

Incredible castle view

Incredible castle view – Laguardia Spain

Italy

After leaving Spain, we headed to Italy. We started our travels in northern Italy, visiting Milan and Lake Como.

Duomo in Milan

Duomo in Milan

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

Lake Como

From here, we headed to the Italian Riviera which was probably our favorite area of Italy.

Vernazza

Vernazza

Monterosso

Monterosso

Italian Riviera - Monterosso

Italian Riviera – Monterosso

After leaving the Italian Riviera, we headed south to Rome, Tuscany, Pompeii and Capri. The blue grotto in Capri was stunning.

Rome

Rome

Tuscany

Tuscany

Pompeii

Pompeii

Capri

Capri

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto

Portugal

Our final stop in Europe was in Portugal. We did not stay here very long but in hindsight, we should have stayed a few more days to take it all in.

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal

Fall 2014

After Europe, we spent about a month in Fort Collins then headed back to Florida. Ryan came back with us so that he could take a Physics class as he awaited his acceptance to the University of Florida.

Ryan and I decided to challenge ourselves to cycle 50 miles on the bicycle (I did the challenge in 2013 but he wanted to try it as well). He and I trained hard and completed a 45 mile and 50 mile ride a week apart. We finished the 50 miles in just 3 hours, 45 minutes quicker than when I did it by myself in 2013.

With the great weather we’ve had in Florida since our return, we’ve been boating, swimming, fishing, and spending lots of time outside. It has been fun having Ryan with us for a few months. He starts at the University of Florida in January so we will miss him.

Huge Jelly Fish

Huge Jelly Fish

Paragliders on the beach

Gliders on the beach

End of 2014

We are spending December in Florida. Cameron and Ryan will be here for Christmas so we will get to spend some great family time together.

In the Fall, we purchased a piece of land pretty close to the beach in Inlet Beach (about a mile from where we live today). We are planning to build a home on the lot, hopefully beginning in the Spring or early Summer.

We haven’t planned our next travel adventure yet, but we will definitely take a trip somewhere in 2015. Maybe Greece, Malta, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, or Finland? Not sure, but they all sound great!

Advertisements

Slideshow of our Trip to France

Spending 8 days of our Summer vacation in Paris allowed us to see most of the city and even venture out to Champagne and Burgundy for wine and champagne tours. I pulled together some pictures and put them into a slide show for you to see.  Here you go!

Burgundy, France

Burgundy is filled with incredible castles and wineries. We visited some of the most famous castles (Chateaus in French) including Chateau de Chambord, Chateau de Chenonceau, and Chateau de Nitray  (also a winery).

Burgundy

Champagne, France

Until this visit, I was not a big fan of champagne but after tasting some of the selections on this tour, I became a big fan. We visited Moet and Mumm champagne houses on this excursion. If you have heard of the extremely spendy champagne called Dom Perignon, then you know Moet — they make it.

Champagne

Paris, France

This was our second visit to Paris but this time we stayed for 8 days. We visited all of the attractions and spent a really long day at the Louvre museum.  We could have spent several days there with the amount of artifacts they have. We stayed in a small Paris apartment that was just a short walk to the Arc de Triomphe. It got dark really late (around 10 to 11 pm) so we ate late dinners, just like the Parisians. We love Paris!

Paris

5 Interesting Things We Learned in Paris France

Spending 8 days in Paris gives you time to learn more about the culture and really see the sights. We first visited Paris in 2011 but were only here 2 days — it was not enough time to really see everything Paris has to offer. This time we took it slower.

 5 Interesting Things We Learned in Paris

1. French people are warm and friendly.

2. The French smoke like cast members of Mad Men.

3. French women are skinny.

4. The French love to people-watch and socialize.

5. Paris has beautiful architecture.

French People are Warm and Friendly

Many Americans think that French people are rude, pushy and not so enamored with us. We found this to be totally untrue. The French people we met were kind and eager to communicate. Even though we don’t know the French language, we tried to learn the basics (good morning, hello, goodbye, may I have the check please, etc.). That went a long way in greeting people and they seemed to appreciate our efforts.

The French Smoke like Cast Members of Mad Men

France reminded us of America in the 60’s and 70’s when most people smoked. In Paris,you can smoke in restaurants and pretty much anywhere else you wish. I think more people in France smoke than don’t.

Once you sit down for dinner, you sit next to French people chain-smoking for hours. We’ve joked that we are going to have black lung before we leave Paris, just from second-hand smoke.

Smoking Parisians

Smoking Parisians

French Women are Skinny

It seems everywhere we walked, you would see skinny women. Much has been said about the women of France being skinny and it seems so. I can tell you that they are not on a low-carb diet because pretty much every meal involves tons of bread. Maybe smoking is the secret — they are all young and skinny because they don’t live past 50 due to rampant lung cancer.

The French love to People-Watch and Socialize

Almost every restaurant has tables facing the street. This is where the French congregate — to smoke, drink and socialize. They watch as people pass by and seem to enjoy the company of others. They are not on their iPhones when they socialize, they seem to really be enjoying the time spent with their friends. They also don’t seem to mind eating by themselves. It is common to see someone at a single table enjoying a beer and a cigar while watching passersby.

Tables face towards the street

Tables face towards the street

They also eat late here. It stays light until almost 11 p.m. during this time of the year so we found that we ate dinner around 9 p.m. each night, just as the Parisians do.

Paris has Beautiful Architecture

We stayed in an apartment that was a couple of minutes walk from the Arc de Triomphe. It was a quiet street but in a great location to easily access all that Paris has to offer.

Arch de Triomphe

Arch de Triomphe

On the night that Algeria beat Korea in World Cup soccer, there were tons of cars blowing horns, flying Algerian flags, launching fireworks, and having a great celebration around the Arch de Triomphe.

Probably the most recognized monument is the Eiffel Tower. It can be seen from almost anywhere in town. We visited it at night — it twinkles at the top of each hour for 5 minutes — very cool.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Ryan and I at the Eiffel Tower

Ryan and I at the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower – Ryan took this picture

As we were walking to Notre Dame, we noticed a few bridges filled with locks. The story goes that couples put these locks on the bridge as a way to show their commitment.

Bridge of locks

Bridge of locks

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The best view in town can be seen from the top of a church called Sacre-Coeur. We climbed to the top (300 stairs) to take in the view.

Sacre-Coeur

Sacre-Coeur

View from Sacre-Coeur

View from Sacre-Coeur

Sacre-Couer is in an area called Montmartre, we spent a day walking around this area and visiting the Musee de Montmartre.

Cafe in Montmartre

Cafe in Montmartre

Musee de Montemartre

Musee de Montmartre

Also in Montmartre is the Moulin Rouge. We saw a show here the last time we visited in 2011.

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

The Louvre is a place you must not miss — it is one of the largest museums in the world and where the Mona Lisa is displayed. We were surprised at how small the Mona Lisa painting is, but the Louvre is a must-see museum, you could spend days in there.

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

The Louvre

I will leave you with a few more pictures of the incredible architecture of Paris.

DSC01038 DSC01032

DSC01020 DSC01010 DSC01007DSC01147DSC01151DSC01154DSC01158DSC01160DSC01162DSC01164DSC01166DSC01170DSC01177DSC01182DSC01184

French Chateaus and Burgundy Wineries

We ventured to the outskirts of Paris yesterday to visit some French Chateaus (Castles) and to enjoy wine tasting in the Burgundy region of France. We started our trip with a stop to Chateau de Chambord.

Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

Building commenced in 1519 and took almost 30 years to complete. It boasts 440 rooms, 284 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. The cost to build the palace was equivalent to 1% of the French Gross Domestic Product!  It was fashioned after Italian Renaissance architecture and many believe that Leonardo di Vinci architected many of the rooms.

As you walk around the Chateau, your eyes drift to the King’s church.

Church along the side of the Chateau

Church along the side of the Chateau

From the back entry, you can see the stunning architecture that was built to mimic the Istanbul skyline, with ornate architecture that focuses your attention at the roof.

Back entry to the Chateau

Back entry to the Chateau

Once inside the courtyard, you begin to appreciate the size of the Chateau.

Courtyard

Courtyard

Although an architectural marvel, it was not a practical design. The huge number of windows, high ceilings, and open terraces made the Chateau extremely cold in the winter.  It was built as a hunting lodge for King François I it was not used a lot because of the extreme cold.

From one of the terraces

From one of the terraces

The King’s bedroom includes a viewing area where he would allow a privileged few to watch him awake each morning at 7:30 a.m. Once awake, the most senior of the viewers would dress him. He repeated this each night when preparing for bed.

The Kings bedroom

The Kings bedroom

Chateau de Nitray

Our next stop took us to Chateau de Nitray, another castle that also serves as a winery.  We were greeted by the owner of the winery and offered 2 glasses of wine and fresh salmon to nibble  on.

Winery and Chateau Owner

Winery and Chateau Owner

The Chateau is small compared to Chambord but doubling as a winery makes this a great place to visit. The owner was incredibly witty and we enjoyed an incredible lunch of roasted chicken, potatoes, tomatoes and apple pie.

Chateau de Nitray

Chateau de Nitray

Chateau de Nitray

Chateau de Nitray

Chateau de Nitray

Chateau de Nitray

After lunch, he gave us a tour of the castle. He said every castle has to have a pigeon coup. The coup was used in earlier days to house thousands of pigeon for food and their eggs. Each cubby hole inside the coup represented an acre of land owned by the castle.

Pigeon coup

Pigeon coup

Chateau De Chenonceau

Our final stop was at Chateau De Chenonceau, a castle built on the River Cher in the 16th century.  Talk about cool views from inside the castle, the river literally runs underneath it.

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

The grounds of the castle are just impeccable. They grow all their vegetables on premise and a working restaurant serves daily from the food grown on site.

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

There are also small houses outside of the castle walls where the workers resided. I think any of us would love to live in one of these cool houses.

Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau De Chenonceau

We finished our tour of Chateau De Chenonceau by visiting their underground wine cellar where we tasted the fruits of the vine. Spectacular!