Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
Insight: Bordeaux, the French Phoenix
By: The Culture-ist, By Liz Schaffer
At the turn of the 21st century, Bordeaux was in trouble. Dusty and lifeless, the once majestic stone city was crumbling. So understandably, contemporary Bordeaux feels a little like a phoenix from the ashes. With eons of soot removed from its opulent medieval churches, Baroque-era facades and Art Nouveau town houses and its once questionable docklands transformed into a playground for the hip and design conscious, Bordeaux is once again a European gem.
Surrounded by the ancient vineyards of Aquitaine and one of the world’s largest UNESCO world heritage sites, Bordeaux now blends Old World elegance with cutting-edge design. It’s a classic French beauty with bite.
Timeless Bordeaux shines bright in the heart of the city. Gothic wonders sit amongst narrow streets and century old squares. There’s the St.-Andre Cathedral, which boast sword-like spires; St.-Seurin Basilica, that sits atop an ancient crypt; and the 18th century Place de la Bourse. This particular attraction comes with a modern twist. An ultra thin miroir d’eau, a haven in the heat, reflects the palace-like building, transforming traditional architecture into contemporary art.
Tradition also reigns supreme on the food and wine front. Long famed for its culinary prowess, Bordeaux has foodie treasures aplenty. Frequented by Jacques Chirac, La Tupina, and its cuisine de terroir, is both earthy and rich. Here flavours evolve, the cellar is noble, herbs hang from the ceiling and the menu is thoroughly French ““ lamb cooked for seven hours and French fries cooked in duck fat. Similarly, Chapon Fin, one of Bordeaux’s oldest restaurants, is a Mecca for food and history lovers. Dating back to the time of the revolution in 1789, this Art Nouveau restaurant, which comes complete with a grotto, attracted the Paris elite (who were greeted by valets in period attire) and has had Clemenceau, Sarah Bernhardt and Toulouse Lautrec dine at its tables. Accompanied by perfectly matched wine, their degustation menu is bold, inventive and blissful.
History also runs thick in the surrounding Chateaus and vineyards. Built largely from stone and prone to glowing in the sunlight, these building, and their wineries, are both imposing and beautiful and come complete with manicured gardens and rich aromas. Wineries can only be visited by appointment so it’s best to join a tour. BordoVino offers small trips with young, wine-loving guides who know the area’s history, impart their wine tasting knowledge (one must see, smell, swirl, smell and savour) and hold rather unconventional degrees.
It’s the converted docks alone that prove Bordeaux is no longer “˜La Belle Endormie’. Here an old warehouse the once housed German submarines now hold regular art exhibitions, Le Garage Moderne, a junk filled hanger, doubles as a contemporary art gallery and Fonds Regional d’Art Contemporain, which collects the works of contemporary artists, take to heart Bordeaux’s modern sensibility. The piece de la modern resistance is Seeko’o Hotel. With a jagged white exterior that plays with light and shadow, high design décor, electric gadgetry aplenty, mirrored ceilings and a chic air, a night spent here feels like a night spent in a living art instillation. This unorthodox urban landmark proves that Bordeaux can do contemporary. And it can do it remarkably well.
Liz Schaffer is an Australian-born freelance travel writer and photographer who set up in London hoping to live behind a blue door and fall in love with famous faces. When not pounding the pavements of Notting Hill she’s lost in Antarctica, climbing hills in Patagonia, swimming in the Adriatic and eating her way around Italy. Her work has appeared in Yen Magazine, International Traveller, Sublime, Lost in London and Australian Traveller. Read her articles on her personal blog: http://lizschaffer.wordpress.com/
Feature Photo by Ted Drake
All other photos by Liz Schaffer
It’s Time to Drink Wine (in Livermore Valley)!
Reposted by permission of Tales Told From The Road
Along with my wife and friends, I’ve made many “Economic Stimulus Trips” (that means eating fine food and drinking fine wine) to California’s famous wine-making valleys: Alexander, Napa, Russian River, and Sonoma. I’ve traveled to some of Europe’s top wine regions like the Alsace, Burgundy, and Tuscany. And in October I had a grand time at British Columbia’s Okanagan Wine Festival.But guess what long-time wine producing region, not far from my home, I’ve never, ever, ever, set foot in? If you said “Livermore Valley”, you would be right. And what’s amazing about my failure to get there is that the very first wine I drank when I came to California back in 1968 was Pinot Chardonnay from the family-owned Wente Vineyards which has been in business since 1883.
The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley by travel writer Thomas C. Wilmer is going to change all of that. This guidebook to one of California’s “hidden” wine destinations covers Wente (page 141 of Tom’s book) and thirty-nine other wineries. The names of three are particularly intriguing to me: Darcie Ken Vineyards & Underdog Wine Bar (I always think of myself as an “underdog”), Longevity Wines (I’ll drink to a long life drinking wine!), and The Singing Winemaker (has Elvis entered the winery building?).
But since man (nor woman) cannot live by wine tasting alone, Tom has included an extensive “Things to Do and See” section at the end of the book with these headings:
- Shops & Wine Bars (Niles Canyon Railway’s Wine Tasting on Wheels” sounds like the way to go)
- Events (I worked at a wine country cooking school, so the Taste of Terroir: Livermore Valley’s Wine & Food Experience has got me salivating)
- Theater (the Livermore Shakespeare Festival is much closer to my home than the similar theater extravaganza that I often attend in Southern Oregon)
- Activities (I like to go day-hiking, and this guidebook lists several trails and parks in the Livermore area)
- Places to See (the Lawrence Livermore Lab and the long-burning Centennial Light Bulb at Fire Station #6 will appeal to “high energy” fans)
- Golf (best to try making par on Wente’s Greg Norman designed course before you begin wine tasting)
- Restaurants (stay to dine at Wente after your round of golf, or play bocce ball and then eat at Campo di Bocce)
- Lodging (major hotel chains, the stylish Rose Hotel, or the rustic Purple Orchid Inn Resort & Spa)
- Visitors Resources (contact information for the local wine growers association, visitor & convention bureau, and chambers of commerce)
- Towns (a brief description of the region’s seven towns and Livermore Valley American Viticultural area)
Now that Northern California’s damp and stormy winter has blown away and spring has arrived, I’m excited about using The Wine Seeker’s Guide to Livermore Valley to plan my next wine tasting excursion. Since it’s also available in a Kindle version, I could read the e-book on my PC and highlight those wineries and other places I want visit on my first trip, then leave my printed version at home and refer to my Kindle notes using my iPhone. (Thanks to Tom Wilmer for providing me with a review copy of his guidebook).
(Tom Wilmer got into journalism as a copy boy for the West Coast edition of the The Wall Street Journal. Since then his travels around the globe have racked up more miles than two trips to the Moon—the one place he hasn’t been yet—and back. His Audiolog travel programs have aired on Central California NPR affiliate radio stations for over twenty years. Now you can find him on YouTube (as in this clip about Livermore Valley wineries), too. Tom and Dick Jordan are both members of Bay Area Travel Writers.)
Munch Your Way Through Florence – Gourmet Food Tours in Tuscany
By: Authors at WickedGoodTravelTips.com
Italian cuisine is renowned worldwide for its delicious cooking styles and amazing recipes, and it is nowadays being served in some of the most sought after and famous restaurants in the world. Little did we know that this traditional cooking style stems from the poor people of Italy using their imaginations and making do with what they had in order to create simple, nourishing yet delicious recipes. Today you’ll find wonderful gourmet food tours throughout Tuscany and beyond.
A fantastic opportunity to learn how to cook an authentic Tuscan meal, and in turn to take this knowledge home. At a top-class culinary school you will be instructed by expert chefs after being taught how to pick your ingredients fresh from Florence’s historic San Lorenzo market. You will learn Tuscan recipes from an English speaking guide, then have the opportunity to eat what you made during the lesson in a 4 course meal alongside a local Tuscan wine in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
In your 10 hour wine tasting experience you will travel the scenic coastal area of Tuscany and taste some of Tuscany’s best wines. Travelling over rolling hills and olive groves you will be visiting the places that send their wines to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world. You will not only taste them, but also learn about the wine making process, and see the very grapes that make the wine. This tour also includes a delicious seafood lunch of Tuscan style, yet with a creative twist in cooking style.
As promised above, there is indeed a tour in which you can eat a Fiorentina steak. Here you will travel out to an 11th Century monastery just outside of Florence where you can spend an evening dining under the stars. Sample some of Italy’s best gelato (traditional ice cream) before sitting down to this scrumptious meal.
Stay in the beautiful city and sample some of the best wines, cheeses and olive oils that Florence has to offer.You will be given detailed explanations on the historical backgrounds and the flavours of the wines, which will be paired with a selection of Tuscan cheeses. The Tuscan oils will also be accompanied by Tuscan cheeses.
An excellent opportunity to take the knowledge of pasta making home with you. You will be taught how to make 3 different pastas by hand ( a perfect excuse to use a rolling pin and a pasta machine!) along with learning to make the sauces that are most complimentary to them. After this you will have the chance to make a typical Tuscan dessert. After cooking class, you will be invited to a delicious lunch of the pasta, sauces and desserts you have just prepared accompanied by a fine Tuscan Wine.***********************************
About the Author: Hannah Fitzpatrick is a blogger and content writer for GetYourGuide.com, a booking site for tours, attractions & excursions with over 300 travel activities in Florence alone.
Photo Credits: #1, 2,3,5 stock.xchng,
#4 Flickr-Alaskan Dude, #6 FLickr-Velo Steve
The World’s Most Beautiful Vineyards
By: Authors at WickedGoodTravelTips.com
The World’s Five Most Beautiful Vineyards
A holiday to a wine resort is one sure-fire way of guaranteeing a good time. Wine inexplicably tastes better when you’re drinking it whilst admiring the vines that created it. Of course, with good wine, comes good food and luxurious accommodation. And then there’s the educational aspect of learning more about the production of wine, and understanding more about the tasting of it, that adds to the overall experience.
There’s something magical about the landscape formed from vine cultivation – it has a pretty, fairy-tale look about it. Here’s our pick of the most beautiful vineyards in the world.
1. Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka, New Zealand
While the Marlborough vineyards are an amazing region, the Rippon Vineyard has that little extra something. Its fields of vines slope down to the mirror-like waters of Lake Wanaka, beyond which stand imposing snow-covered mountains. The little island floating in the middle of lake in front of the vineyard, fit for a princess, adds a sprinkle of fairy dust to this place.
2. Sharpham Vineyard, Devon, England
The steep slopes of this Devonshire vineyards lead down to the sparkling waters of the River Dart. Visitors to the vineyard can select from a few packages that include a guided or self-guided walk, food options as well as the obligatory wine and cheese tasting. A grand old house overlooks the grounds and forms the basis of this estate. Down by the river, a pretty white boathouse is one of the region’s most sought-after holiday lets.
3. Chateau Potelle, Napa Valley, USA
California’s Napa Valley is packed with vineyards that all have a shared charm of the North American sunshine and mixture of lush vegetation framing the vines. But Chateau Potelle is widely regarded as one of the prettiest in the area, hidden on a hill away from the main road and dotted with art works collected by the French owners.
4. Cinque Terre, Italy
This isn’t so much one vineyard in particular, but all the tiny vineyards that are dotted around the cliffs of this part of Northwest Italy. The random, seaside walkways will lead you in and around these tiny plots that are like the Med’s answer to allotments. The views down to the sea and the tiny villages and towns that lie below are made even prettier by the green vines curling about you.
5. Mooiplaas Wine Estate, Near Cape Town, South Africa
Mooiplaas means ‘beautiful farm’ in Afrikaans, and it’s certainly the prettiest vineyards in the Stellenbosch region. The vines lie on the steep slopes of ancient, mineral rich soils in the cool, sunny Bottelary Hills. The wines produced here are wonderful, and the views from the winery are stunning, taking in forested hills and the distant mountains.
About The Author: This guest post is courtesy of www.exsus.com
Guide to Planning a Road Trip to the Best Vineyards in Australia
By: Authors at WickedGoodTravelTips.com
Too often, visitors to Australia see only the main attractions, missing the amazing views of the more rural countryside. One of the best ways to truly experience the sights, sounds, and flavors Australia has to offer, is to go on a vineyard themed road trip across the outback.
Over the last decade, Australian wines have gained popularity around the globe with new vinicultures starting every year. Those interested in independently traveling through the wine producing areas of Australia should plan a road trip that lingers at vineyard tours. While there are over 60 designated wine regions on the Australian continent, it is recommended that you focus on the largest wine valleys, where tourism is more prominent, and vineyards regularly offer tours, and other accommodations are readily available.
Yarra Valley is located just 38 miles east of Melbourne. Road tripping through the Yarra Valley insures a unique view of the Dandenong mountain range. The area is cool year round, and is home to more than 50 distinct wineries. It is considered the fastest growing wine district in all of Australia.
The area’s most prestigious winery, the Domaine Chadon, offers tours from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm daily. Wines for tasting can be procured by the flute, or by the bottle, and guests can meander through the bottling area, and the riddling cellar. For those who wish to linger in the area, accommodations can found at Melbourne, and a total of 20 vineyards can be easily visited as day trips, each of which allow wine tasting in their cellars.
Hunter Valley is located 114 miles north of Sydney. It sets in the long river bottoms of the Hunger River, largely considered the most fertile area of Australia. Some of the best white and red wines in the world come from this region, which has been known for its viniculture since the 1800s. The valley is home to more than 80 wineries, each set in the midst of growing farmlands.
Anyone who visits Hunter Valley should take the time to visit Rothbury estates, at lower hunter. The staff offers free tours of winemaking at every stage of its development, and offers free tastings of Shiraz.
The Barossa, located 28 miles northeast of Adelaide, is home to half of Australia’s wineries. The area was settled by German immigrants in the 1840s, who had brought their own vines, and vinicultural style with them. They recognized the promise of Barossa’s shallow valley soil, and immediately started making traditional German wines, which have made the valley famous.
Those road tripping through the valley should take the time to visit Angaston, one of Barossa’s oldest, and most respected wineries. Their tours will give visitors a sample of German wines, like Riesling, Frontigac, and Grenache, as well as German hospitality and culture that is still palpable in the area.
The sights that can be experienced when driving across the Australian countryside are endless and unparalleled. Go to The Australian Informational Website at http://www.auinfo.com/australia_wine_regions.htm for more information about Australia’s unique landscape, and the ways it has embraced viticulture to create vineyards nestled into quiet pastoral passageways, and busy business centers.
About The Author: Elizabeth Bailey is an avid travel blogger. She loves combining an outback driving adventure with a bit of wine tasting and cheap overnight stays. Visit Expedia Australia for more information about car rentals.
Photo Credits – Flickr cc: #1 Lina Hayes, #2 Crafterm, #3 Diane Byrne, #4 GOC53
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Essential Guide To The Best Paris Wine Bars
By: Authors at WickedGoodTravelTips.com
Paris is a great hub for a range of clubs and bars. Many Parisians visit local bars and cafes to meet their friends and enjoy the city nightlife. Most of the city monuments and roads remain illuminated throughout the night and many tourists prefer to take part in midnight parties.
The wine bars of the city are decorated with regional themes and have a calm and decent environment. Apart from serving wines, these bars also small plates of cheese and meat. Irish and Anglo-style based bars are all scattered within a walkable distance which offer unique experience to the Paris visitors.
Here is a list of five popular Paris Wine Bars to experience great nightlife.
1. Budha Bar:
If you prefer to enjoy some peaceful hours enjoying light meals along with a nice cocktail, then checkout the popular Budha Bar. It has a very large relaxing area to enjoy leisure party with your friends having drinks, dinner and dancing. Eat at the downstairs restaurant before going up to the famous bar area where you can notice the giant statue of Lord Buddha. Even though the food items are fairly priced at this restaurant many American tourists still prefer to visit this bar.The best DJs around the globe will play their popular musical selections to entertain your evenings, but there is no dance-floor at Budha Bar, which is somewhat disappointing. Coming to dress code, prefer to wear sexy modern jeans. Avoid wearing casuals and sporty outfits. For women, it is advised not to wear sneakers at this bar.
- The bar gets crowded around midnight.
- Location: 8/12, rue Boissy d’Anglais.
- Bar Timings: 7:00pm to 12:30am.
- Nearby Attractions: Champs Elysees.
- Preferable Days: Saturdays and Sundays.
- Website: www.buddhabar.com
2. Le Baron Rouge:
Le Baron is quite a popular wine bar in the city that any traveller prefer to visit during their Paris vacation. Its a perfect place to taste a glass of tasty wine along with a plate of traditional fromages, saucissons and oysters. This bar is always buzzed with wine lovers at all times. Its giant oak barrels and racks of quality wines attracts millions of wine lovers throughout the year. During the lunch hours, the bar is completely filled with local shoppers and market traders. Le Baron Bouge, close proximity to the Flea market keeps the bar busy all the time.Its a good spot for red wine and French Tapas. Many tourists and locals go to this bar for a break, after purchasing at nearby markets. Smoking is always permitted in this bar and whenever I plan Paris holidays, I always meet my friends here in this bar. You can wear regular casuals and smoking is permitted in this bar.
- Location: 1, rue Theophile Roussel 75012 Paris.
- Bar Timings: 10am-2pm and 5pm-10pm.
- Nearby Attractions: Marche d’Aligre, flea market.
- Preferable Days: Tuesdays-Sundays.
3. Au Sauvignon:
This popular bar which was successfully serving wine for Paris visitors for more than half a century was run by a single family. Popular wine served in Au Sauvignon is Beaujolais and is served in many flavours like Saint Amour, Fleurie and Morgon.The popular Paris bakery Poilane is located very near to this bar and many visitors after tasting a glass of wine go to Poilane to taste its popular sandwich with duck rillette. Wearing smart casuals is recommended when entering into this bar.
- Nearby Attractions: Luxemburg Gardens and Poilane bakery.
- Bar Timings: 8am-10pm on (Mon-Sat) and 10am-9pm on Sundays.
- Location: 80 Rue des Sts-Peres, 75007 Paris.
- Website: www.au-sauvignon.com/
4. Piston Pelican:
Another great bar in Paris that is worthy of an outing is Le Piston Pelican. The bar beautifully hidden between Belleville and the Bastille. This old-fashioned bar is a perfect destination to sample tasty French wine from a huge wine list. Popular wines included in the list is the crisp Picpoul alongside other popular wine bottles from Chile and Portugal. During weekends, many customers come here to taste the popular cocktails at this bar. The whole atmosphere in this bar is friendly and they organise DJ’s and concerts during weekend nights.
- Nearby Attractions: Picpus Cemetery, Musee Edith Piaf.
- Location: 15 rue Bagnolet, Pere Lachaise, 75020 Paris.
- Bar Timings: 8:30 to 2:00 (Mon-Fri), 10:00-02:00 (Sat) and 10:00-00:00 (Sun)
- Website: www.pistonpelican.com/
5. Caves Legrand:
Caves Legrand is a famous Parisian bar which has been selling fine quality wines in the city for more than a decade. At the front side, you will see a shop offering truffles, chocolate, foie gras and at the backside, you can find their own wine bar known for its popular red and white wine lists.Wine lovers can even even taste vintage bottles at the bar. Nice and good looking dress along with a pair of attractive heels is recommended for the women. For the guys, it is good to wear a designer shirt with matching trousers.
- Nearby Attractions: Place des Victoires, Palais Royal.
- Location: 1 rue de la Banque, 75002 Paris.
- Bar Timings: Closes at 7:00 p.m. everyday.
- Website: www.caves-legrand.com/
Do you have any other popular Parisian bars to include in the above list? Please express your own views in the comments!
About The Author: Julei Helen is a guest writer who enjoys writing articles on different travel destination in the UK. Her articles are regularly published on popular newspapers and travel blogs. Currently, she is writing travel related articles on cheap ferry travel on behalf of Norfolkline.com
Photo Credits: Flickr #1 malais, #2 highfithome, #3 Au Savignion, #4 malais, #5 rueducroissant
There is so much to see and do in San Francisco! It’s really just a matter of how much you can squeeze in during your stay. Here’s my round-up of essential sights should you be lucky enough to find yourself in cool, cultured San Fran. All that…