Tag Archives: dinner

Downton Abbey Christmas Supper Club – Camp Lucy

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aaaaaaaaOh Glorious Day………it is time for the Downton Abbey Supper Club at Camp Lucy!

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Preparations had been ongoing for weeks for this most anticipated event…

Remember Camp Lucy from the last Supper Club – East Meets West?  CLICK HERE to see that post…

Every time we arrive at the gates of Camp Lucy we feel like Alice going through the Looking Glass into a magical world…

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We had to stop and admire the beautiful creek that runs through Camp Lucy as we crossed the bridge…

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We came to the top of the hill and found our way to the most luxurious cottages on the planet

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Beautiful – Simple – Elegant

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A quick nap and then up to dress for the evening…….

Husband wore is Black Mink for the evening

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Our friends stayed in a Cottage across the way and came over so that we might walk to the festivities together…

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Off to Ian’s Chapel we went.. the original chapel, pavilion, and events hall, along with surrounding gardens, stone terrace, arch, and great lawn are collectively known as Ian’s Chapel to honor Whit’s son who not only sparked this grand adventure, but also left this world far too soon on December 23, 2011….

Upon entering the Great Hall we are whisked into Downton Abbey…

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Elegance, Grace, Charm, Pure Delight….the room a buzz with excitement and conversation…

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What a grand adventure we have embarked upon…

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Our Hosts, Whit and Kim Hanks, so gracious ….

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After delightful cocktails and hors d’oeuvres around the massive fireplace…

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…….we are seated for dinner……be still my heart…

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As the song goes……….”these are a few of my favorite things”

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We begin with Fried Oyster with Celery and Bacon Cream and Caviar and Sorrel Coulis paired with Deviled Quail Egg and Pickled Red Onion

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Followed by……Butternut Sage Bisque with Cranberry Brie Croustade..

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Oh …………did I mention Wine……lovely, lovely Wine…

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The Room was filled with the clinking of glasses and joyous laughter…

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Oh my I was so busy with the wine that I forgot to photograph the salad!!  Watercress and Fennel with Stilton-Leek Tartine and Rhubarb Vinaigrette…

Now the Entrée ….Herb Tournedos of Beef and Truffle (yes I said truffle) Madeira Jus

Asparagus with Hollandaise and (get ready for it) Chive Popovers with Foie Gras Butter

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Oh swoon…….would that this would never end……but alas here comes dessert….

Floating Islands with Shaved Black Plum, Grand Marnier Anglaise and Salted Pistachio Brittle AND Sticky Toffee Pudding..

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……oh yes and did I mention wine….

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What is most delightful about these Supper Clubs at Camp Lucy is that the evening is never rushed and guests walk and mingle during dinner, fully enjoying the experience…..here is husband with our lovey hosts ….

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New friends were made, selfies were taken

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A most lovely and enjoyable Downton Abbey Evening at Camp Lucy

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If you are ever driving on 290 between Johnson City and Austin, Texas …..you MUST stop by Camp Lucy

A Most Magical Place

Just give them a “like” on Facebook and you won’t miss the fun!

CLICK HERE

 

Adirondacks – Leaf Peeping : Saratoga – North Creek Train Trip

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We decided to venture off to New England to do some serious Leaf Peeping…

Included in that trip was a stay in the Adirondacks and a Train Ride on the Saratoga – North Creek Railway

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This train is also known as the Polar Express Train.  It is extremely popular and we booked our seats months in advance. 

We booked the Diamond Class Service, which gets you a very comfortable seat in the Glass Domed Cars and access to Full Wait Staff and Food……..you know how important those two items are to The Tin Man….

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The Train Ride from Saratoga to North Creek takes about two to three hours and is an amazing adventure…

Bloody Marys and Omelets were in order…

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The Sights along the way were breathtaking…as the train traveled along the Hudson River….

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It was just marvelous to watch all the beautiful scenery go by..

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The entire time the train staff was attending to our every wish and desire….

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Our visit to the Village of North Creek was quite fun……I went to the local hair salon, Trimmers, and got my hair cut while visiting with the most delightful characters…….in just one hour we had reimagined the entire town and designed all sorts of festivals!!

The train trip back was just as thrilling as the one up….

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Sorry for all the large pictures; however, the beauty was too great to insert small pics!

What a delight this train ride was………the day was just grand on all avenues….

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Until next time………bon voyage…..

Camp Lucy – Supper Club

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We have the great pleasure of knowing Whit & Kimberly Hanks and have so been looking forward to attending the Supper Club at their most marvelous and enchanting ranch, Camp Lucy…

Camp Lucy, home to the Texas Hill Country’s premier wedding and special event venues, is nestled on a gorgeous Hill Country ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas.

The property, owned by Whit Hanks, is named for his mother, Lucy Hanks, and its history as an idyllic family getaway.

CLICK HERE  or HERE for more information about this great place..

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The property’s path from family ranch to wedding and special event destination began when Whit’s oldest son Ian moved to Asia several years ago – an odyssey that, quite unexpectedly, would marry this Texas property with French Colonial buildings from Vietnam and inspire Whit to open up the family’s land so others could experience the Hill Country dream.

Upon Ian’s suggestion, Whit visited Asia, including Hanoi in Vietnam, where he discovered a wealth of French-Colonial antiques. As an avid antiques dealer and collector, Whit is always on the hunt for the truly unique and special antique and, in Vietnam, he found what could be the ultimate antique – an 1880s Catholic church. On the brink of destruction to make way for a new church, the gorgeous 19th Century chapel, built from intricately carved ironwood, was available for purchase. Whit was sold.

The chapel was carefully disassembled and packed in sea-land containers, all of the timbers and tiles painstakingly photographed, labeled, and provided with a diagram and video to show how the church would go back together for its new life in Texas.

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After a long sea and land voyage, the chapel arrived in Dripping Springs where it was reassembled and a campanile added to hold a 19th Century French bell which, today, signals happy events at Camp Lucy. The original chapel was soon joined by a second French Colonial church from the 1930s, reconstructed at Camp Lucy and roofed with 1920s Ludowici tile repurposed from the Bexar County Courthouse in downtown San Antonio. The courthouse was getting a new roof and now the deep green glaze of these antique tiles is the crowning glory on the Camp Lucy pavilion.

 

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The next chapter in the Camp Lucy storybook was written in December 2011 when the doors opened to a magnificent events hall. This addition to Camp Lucy, created from a repurposed Amish barn originally built from hand-hewn white oak timbers in Ohio in the 1800s, continues the unique design aesthetic of Camp Lucy.

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Today, the original chapel, pavilion, and events hall, along with surrounding gardens, stone terrace, arch, and great lawn are collectively known as Ian’s Chapel to honor Whit’s son who not only sparked this grand adventure, but also left this world far too soon on December 23, 2011, shortly after marrying the love of his life, Sandra Hanks, at Camp Lucy.

  Sacred Oaks, opened on September 22, 2013. Named Sacred Oaks to honor the space’s remarkable setting, the venue expertly blends the impeccable design and enviable style that are the hallmarks of Camp Lucy with the natural surroundings and, as with all things Camp Lucy, celebrates life, family, and new beginnings. 

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As you enter the property and drive across a small bridge, you realize that you are entering a very special place…

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We decided to book a cottage for the evening

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The Cottages are nestled together in a peaceful community..

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Brian was wonderfully attentive upon our arrival and his excitement about the evening’s Supper Club was contagious..

We opened the door to our Cottage and were surrounded by Hill Country Elegance and Charm

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The Bath was simply outstanding…

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Each Tub and Sink were carved from single blocks of Limestone…

After a quick nap …..it is time to be off to Supper Club.

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The Evening began with Soy Lacquered Pork Belly on Crispy Wonton with Carrot Ginger Relish and Pulled Port Tostaditas with Granny Smith Pico and Cilantro Aioli

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Then we sat for Supper…

Mizuna, Shaved Carrot and Daikon with Crispy Rice Vermicelli and Ginger Sambal Vinaigrette and Shredded Iceberg, Ovendried Tomato and Pickled Red Onion with Crispy Tortillas and Jalapeno Ranch Dressing……….must have been the cocktails……….I forgot to photograph this course!

Then we moved on to Garlic and Soy Braised Short Ribs with Mirin Cabbage Slaw and Sriracha Aioli and Smoked Brisket with Cider Slaw, Cotija and Chipotle Crema

accompanied by Tempura Fried Root Vegetables with Ponzu and Fire Roasted Grilled Seasonal Vegetables

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Followed by……….I know, what a divine feast……

Lemongrass and Red Chile Poached Salmon with Creamy Sesame Black Soba Noodles and Coriander Seared Snapper with Tomatillo-Mango Arroz and Ancho Lime Broth

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……….and for Dessert……Coconut Fried Ice Cream and Summer Peach Cobbler…

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We had the most marvelous waiter who was more attentive than any 5 Star restaurant server ever dreamed

Our Hosts were so kind and gracious…….Whit and Kimberly…….inviting everyone back for the next Supper Club

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Brian, the Lodging Manager, attended the Supper Club and informed us that he had something special waiting back in our Cottage..

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What a delightful evening it was!

After a wonderful breakfast in the Cottage Offices, we took a peaceful stroll about the grounds of Camp Lucy..

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But, Alas, it is time to go…….we glanced back at the Beautiful Camp Lucy as we drove away…

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Uncommon Journeys – Canadian Panorama – Across Canada by Train

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It began as dusk approached and gathered us into her arms….we walked to Union Station in Toronto to begin our train trek across Canada.

Excitement abounded……..we were all a dither with expectations of a wondrous trip…

Outside the station was a beautiful sculpture of the Olympic Torch..

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Passengers bound for distant points all converged together…

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The time drawing near for our departure…

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Uncommon Journeys (click here for information) conducts this two week fully guided tour across Canada, but once a year.  We had decided that we would give it a go.  Never had we been on a guided tour before and therefore our apprehension of someone owning our time was great. 

The itinerary for the trip included the following:

Day 1: Arrive Niagra Falls

We had a terrific stay at the Sheraton on the Falls (Canadian Side of Border)

You can read about that part of the Journey by clicking HERE

Day 2: Arrive Toronto

We had a grand time in Toronto the Westin Harbor Castle.  We spent our free day exploring this wonderful city which was highlighted by a welcome dinner at the acclaimed Canyon Creek Grill, a favorite haunt of the great and near-great in Toronto.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

Day 3: Depart Toronto

 The stunning train is a perfect 1950’s time capsule with the famed Vista-dome cars, a real old- fashioned dining car and first rate dining and service.

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The first night we joined for cocktails in the swank, end of train ‘Bullet Lounge’ before our welcome aboard dinner in the art deco diner as we roll west over the Canadian National Railway

We were given a private dining car to enjoy a most marvelous dinner..

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Day 4: En Route

We booked a Suite on the Train which gave us a king sized bed, two baths and two picture windows to enjoy the beautiful Canadian sights.

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It was amazing crossing the Canadian Prairies aboard the Canadian.

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Civilized amenities abound including hot showers, a special lounge just for First Class passengers and the best dining on any train in North America, deluxe train travel at its very best in a manner that has all but vanished. 

Each morning, the staff delivered Breakfast to our Suite…

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We had no desire to leave our suite and the cabin staff was so very attentive to our needs.

We enjoyed reading and before dinner cocktails in our suite, unencumbered by anyone…

 

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Day 5: En Route

We were overnight on train en-route as the Canadian sped across the great prairielands over the Canadian National Railway

The views were breathtaking…

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As part of booking the suite, the Canadians call it the Romance Package……and it was, we had Champagne and Flowers delivered to the suite each evening….

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Day 6: Overnight Jasper

After lunch the Canadian begins its ascent of the eastern slope of the Rockies, a not to be missed spectacle.

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This afternoon, we arrive in gorgeous Jasper and transfer to the Amethyst Lodge for our overnight stay in this magical and unspoiled mountain hamlet. All evening free to relax in this glorious setting

Wandering about the town were Elk…….what fun..

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We had a delightful time wandering about and visiting with locals…

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We dined at Papa George’s and had some of the finest French Cuisine…

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Day 7: Overnight Banff

We spent a stunning day of sightseeing as we traveled to Banff via the Columbia Icefields Parkway

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 We were thrilled to get a ride on the Glacier itself on a ‘Sno- coach’  before our arrival in Banff for our overnight stay

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Day 8: Overnight Banff

We enjoyed a full day in Banff beginning with the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain

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followed by a visit to the Banff Hot Springs that have made this village famous.

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Later that night we had a special dinner at Le Beaujolais….

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Day 9: Overnight Banff

Another magical day with a sightseeing tour to Yoho National Park that takes in Bridal Veil Falls, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise with all afternoon at leisure to further enjoy Banff

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 A fun “selfie” with our great tour director, Patrick…

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Day 10: Overnight Banff

Our final day in Banff we planned to sleep in and to enjoy Banff at our own pace

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Day 11: Depart for Vancouver

We depart this morning after breakfast bound for Jasper with a special sightseeing tour north over the Icefields Parkway stopping at Peyto Lake and Sunwapta Falls en route….

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Later we board the westbound CANADIAN, featuring spectacular views of the Rockies from its many vista-dome cars, one of the great travel treats in the World.

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Drinks in the classic Observation Lounge are a highlight tonight followed by dinner in the diner as we roll west over the historic Canadian National Railway.

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Day 12: Overnight Vancouver

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The CANADIAN arrived in Vancouver after breakfast time…….we had the most marvelous Duck Confit Eggs Benedict on the Train…

 

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 We enjoyed a brief sightseeing tour of this beautiful city, Canada’s third largest.

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The balance of the day was leisure…. we found a delightful Japanese Restaurant, tucked away on a side street….

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We are anxious to get to sleep, because the next day we would meet Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog

Day 13: Spend the Day with Virginia

We spent a grand day with Virginia and the Good Husband…read about it CLICK HERE…

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Day 14: Journey Home

Alas, our incredible Canadian Adventure has come to an end….aboard the plane…….

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Home Sweet Home

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I must admit that as I close my eyes each night, the vision of our nightly Champagne comes to mind…

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Hope you enjoyed this trip across Beautiful Canada with us…

St. Lawrence Market – Toronto – Canada

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After our marvelous morning at Clafouti’s Patisserie it was time to explore more of Toronto

We are just in day two of our two week journey across Canada with Uncommon Journeys train exploration known as Canadian Panorama..

We hopped the Trolley to head back downtown……we exited the trolley early to walk about a bit and enjoy the sights…

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Our destination was the Famed St. Lawrence Market

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This market has achieved the status of Number One Food Market in the WORLD

……..well you know the Tin Man…..if it is about food, it must be explored…..

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We enter the Market and the World of all Culinary Delights embraces us….

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Okay…..Okay…..Okay…enough temptation……..time to eat (again)

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Oink……….Oink……….it was good!!

Time to explore some more….

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 ….and then before us …….. WHAT….THEY ARE GRILLING OCTOPUS…..my favorite….

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We find a table out on the patio and place our order….

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Soon the Delights of the Sea are before us……the aromas exotic and marvelous…

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Oh, Pure Heaven, this is the place to visit when in Toronto……but it is time to take to the streets again…

We do need to meet our Tour Group for Dinner Tonite…………ha….

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A quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and have a cocktail….

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Then it is off for our last meal on solid ground for the next four days…….so excited about getting on the train…

Excited about Dinner at Joe Badali’s Italian Restaurant…..

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We are a large group, so an Italian Restaurant is the perfect place…..the service is great and the food fantastic…

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Now that Dinner is done……we being the train trip…..stay tuned for that exciting adventure…

Hope you enjoyed our stay in Toronto…

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CLAFOUTI : Toronto – Canada

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It began by a chance meeting in the virtual world of Blogging….and so the journey continues…

We booked passage on Uncommon Journeys Canadian Panorama cross country Train Excursion……..two weeks…yikers I thought….

Our Second Day was to be spent in Toronto….not caring for Large Cities….I saw her looming before us…construction cranes everywhere..

You see, in Canada,  there are two seasons:  Winter and Construction

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Virginia of BEL OCCHIO’S BLOG had already told us of Queen’s Street and Clafouti…home of the BEST croissants outside of Paris…….off we went

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Pure Victorian Delight……….peace, tranquility and not one construction crane in sight…..only the rumble of quaint street cars going by….

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Then we turned the corner and there it was…………Clafouti….mecca of the Croissant and the Crookie………….more about that later…….

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We came to the well worn steps leading to her front door….

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Inside………the aroma of fresh baked goods and coffee….

Clafouti reaches out and throws a Parisian Wrap around us….

Just look at the Delectable Delights……….

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We grab the table next to the window……….Virginia’s favorite, so we could look out at the beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park across the street….

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Our Croissants so flaky and delicious………the coffee, rich and fragrant…..

We did not try the Crookie……a Croissant with an Oreo Cookie baked inside…..Clafouti created this masterpiece…

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The Bell on the Door was always a-tinkle with customers coming and going…..

The Bohemian Interior of Clafouti so enchanting….

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Alas, time to go explore the Park and seek out those mysterious albino squirrels, Good Husband of Virginia has spoken of…..

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We look back at our Clafouti……..and think of all the times our friend Virginia sat here gathering strength…..

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The Park is full of Flowers………but not one albino squirrel to be seen…..

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Time to hop the streetcar and head back for dinner…….What a treat is was to escape to Paris for a couple of hours……..

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Until next time…………

Geneva – Switzerland

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The train leaves our beautiful Berne (click HERE to see that trip)  behind and we begin the last leg of our journey across Switzerland…

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Our final stop in this beautiful country will be Geneva ………

Geneva was a border town, fortified against the Celtic tribe Helvetii, when the Romans took it in 121 BC. It became Christian under the Late Roman Empire, and acquired its first bishop in the 5th century, having been connected to the bishopric of Vienne in the 4th.

In the Middle Ages, Geneva was ruled by a count under the Holy Roman Empire until the late 14th century, when it was granted a charter giving it a high degree of self-governance. Around this time the House of Savoy came to dominate the city. In the 15th century, an oligarchic republican government emerged with the creation of the Grand Council.  In the first half of the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation reached the city, causing religious strife during which Savoy rule was thrown off and Geneva allied itself with the Swiss Confederacy.

In 1541, with Protestantism in the ascendancy, John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, became the spiritual leader of the city. By the 18th century, however, Geneva had come under the influence of Catholic France, which cultivated the city as its own, who tended to be at odds with the ordinary townsfolk – to the point that an abortive revolution took place in 1782.

In 1798, revolutionary France under the Directory annexed Geneva. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815, Geneva was admitted to the Swiss Confederation.

In 1907, the separation of Church and State was adopted. Geneva flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming the seat of many international organizations.

Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

We know we have arrived as we see the beautiful Lake Geneva over the mountain tops…

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Geneva is a global city, a financial center, and worldwide center for diplomacy due to the presence of numerous international organizations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross.   Geneva is the city that hosts the highest number of international organisations in the world.    It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.  As such,  one immediately misses the charm and quaintness of the beautiful city of Berne.

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The is beautiful art throughout the city……..

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The markets are bursting forth with marvelous goodies….

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Swiss Charm still surrounds you…….

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The hustle and bustle is so different from the feeling of the rest of this beautiful country……

The Grand Cathedral seems as if she has been caught in a spider’s web…

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As we leave the downtown area………a charming tune catches our attention…….

…..there he is a Hurdy Gurdy Man….

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….just when we thought all was lost…..

We enjoy our final days in this beautiful country……a nice Swiss Breakfast….

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……and then off to the train……looking out at our last views of the beautiful Alps as we cross into France…

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I hope you have enjoyed our journey ……….

Marsala – Sicily

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Marsala  (Lilybaeum in Latin) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populous town in Trapani, and the fifth-highest in Sicily.

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The town is famous for the landing of Garibaldi on 11 May 1860 (the Expedition of the Thousand) and for its Marsala wine.

A feature of the area is the natural reserve of Stagnone Lagoon—a marine area with salt ponds.

The Salt Ponds and the Ancient Windmills used to pump the sea water out are so very beautiful…

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Marsala is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city Lilybaion, and includes the archaeological site of Motya island, an ancient Phoenician town.  See our visit to that marvelous place by clicking HERE.

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As we traveled to Sicily from Malta it was exciting to see the island coming into view…

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We stayed in our favorite hotel in Marsala, The New Palace Hotel

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We love walking the old city of Marsala, so filled with history and beauty..

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As with any ancient city in Europe, one must visit the Cathedral…

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We dart up the steps and enter the enormous doors …….what do we see…….. a wedding in progress…

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….up the side aisle we sneak, in order to obtain a better view of the goings on….

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What fun to observe this very formal event…we hurry to wait outside to see the newlyweds exit…

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What fun that was!

We had walked into the old town and on our way back we found the most marvelous restaurant…. Bucanieri

Look at the view from our table……..marvelous!!

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What a delightful meal we enjoyed, sitting and watching the chefs in the open kitchen….

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Crostini with Lardo and Fresh Tomato..

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Arancini di Riso and Sundried Tomato stuffed with Sardine…

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Octopus Salad

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Wild Boar Meatballs in a Rich Hunter’s Broth

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Delightful Frutti di Mari

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Tuna Steak in an Incredible Parsley Sauce

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Delightful cup of Rich Minestrone Soup

Then a walk back to the New Palace for some pastries..

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Nothing beats Sicilian Pastries…

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We so love Sicily and Marsala is always a delight to visit…..we hope you enjoyed spending some time here with us….

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Grosseto – Italy

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Our destination is Grosseto, whose origins can be traced back to the High Middle Ages.

Grosseto was first mentioned in 803 as a fief of the Counts Aldobrandeschi, in a document recording the assignment of the church of St. George to Ildebrando degli Aldobrandeschi, whose successors were counts of the Grossetana Mark until the end of the 12th century.

Grosseto is enchanting, in part, due to the fact that the city is surrounded by ancient Medicean Walls.

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The walls embrace this beautiful city and no vehicles are allowed!  Peaceful, quiet and simply divine!

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  Grosseto has a long and turbulent history.  In 1137 the city was besieged by German troops, led by duke Henry X of Bavaria, sent by the emperor Lothair III to reinstate his authority over the Aldobrandeschi.

In the following year the bishopric of Roselle was transferred to Grosseto.

In 1151 the citizens swore loyalty to the Siena, and in 1222 the Aldobrandeschi gave the Grossetani the right to have their own podestà, together with three councilors and consuls.

In 1244 the city was reconquered by the Sienese, and its powers, together with all the Aldobrandeschi’s imperial privileges, were transferred to Siena by order of the imperial vicar.

Thereafter Grosseto shared the fortunes of Siena. It became an important stronghold, and the fortress (rocca), the walls and bastions can still be seen today.

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In 1266 and in 1355, Grosseto tried in vain to win freedom from the overlordship of Siena. While Guelph and Ghibelline parties struggled for control of that city, Umberto and Aldobrandino Aldobrandeschi tried to regain Grossetto for their family. The Sienese armies were however victorious, and in 1259 they named a podestà from their city. But Grosseto gained its freedom and in the following year and fought alongside the Florentine forces in the Battle of Montaperti.

Over the next 80 years Grosseto was again occupied, ravaged, excommunicated by Pope Clement IV, freed in a republic led by Maria Scozia Tolomei, besieged by emperor Louis IV and by the antipope Nicholas V in 1328, until it finally submitted to its more powerful neighbour, Siena.

The pestilence of 1348 struck Grosseto hard and by 1369 its population had been reduced to some hundred families. Its territory, moreover, was frequently ravaged, notably in 1447 by Alfons V of Sicily and in 1455 by Jacopo Piccinino.

Sienese rule ended in 1559, when Charles V handed over the whole duchy to Cosimo I de Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany.

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Later you will see that we had the privilege of dining in an ancient Medici building that was an amazing experience.

In 1574 the construction of the Medicean Walls was begun and we are so glad they survived and protect this beautiful city today.

We knew that our visit to Grosseto would include staying at the marvelous Grand Hotel Bastiani

grosetto4We had stayed here once before and fell in love with the old world charm and elegance of the hotel

It is located just inside the ancient Medicean Walls and on the Piazza Gioberti, in the shadow of the Cathedral of Grosseto…

grosetto6I do not usually gush on about hotels; however, this one is on the top of the list of our favorites…

A beautiful staircase….

europe2 162World Class service and an elegant dining room…

europe2 161Our suite was so very luxurious and comfortable…

europe2 163…..and nothing……….nothing beats an Italian Breakfast……..nothing….

europe2 160Okay, enough gushing…………..onto the city….

The Romanesque cathedral, the main monument of the city, is named for its patron St. Lawrence, and was begun at the end of the 13th century, by architect Sozzo Rustichini of Siena.

It was erected over the earlier church of Santa Maria Assunta, it was only finished in the 15th century (mainly due to the continuing struggles against Siena).

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The façade of alternate layers of white and black marble is Romanesque in style, but is almost entirely the result of 16th century and 1816–1855 restorations: it retains decorative parts of the original buildings, including Evangelists’ symbols.

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The layout consists of a Latin cross, with transept and apse.

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The interior has a nave with two aisles, separated by cruciform pilasters. The main artworks are a wondrously carved baptismal font from 1470–1474 and the Madonna delle Grazie by Matteo di Giovanni (1470).

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The campanile (bell tower) was finished in 1402, and restored in 1911.

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The Church of San Francesco is located on the Omonym Square, it was built in the Middle Ages.

It was an important Benedictine convent, before moving to the Franciscans.

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At the center of the cloister stands the characteristic Pozzo della Bufala (Well of the Buffalo) in travertine; another well is located in the square outside the church.

Then there is the Church of San Pietro. the oldest religious building in Grosseto, it was built along the stretch of the Via Aurelia that crossed the center and was originally a plebeian and stational church along the old consular road.

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The beautiful Palazzo Aldobrandeschi whose origins are medieval.  It is now a Neo-Gothic edifice with ogival mullioned windows and merlons in the upper part of the walls.

It houses the seat of the province of Grosseto. The architect was Lorenzo Porciatti.

europe2 165The city is filled with marvelous shops and the people are all so relaxed and friendly……………

…..I do believe it is the absence of vehicles!

europe2 166The weather was perfect during our visit and we enjoyed the moon during the daytime….

europe2 173As we venture about town we stumble upon an ancient structure whose upper portions have collapsed over the years…

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The Ristorante Locanda de Medici de Peccianti…WOW……….we must eat here!

europe2 176We find the entrance into the ancient Medici cellars that now house this fantastic restaurant…

We learn that these ancient cellars were used as bomb shelters during World War II…..

europe2 168We venture into a world of culinary delight….

grosetto10What a charming place and the wine selection……..oh swoon…….

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Leonardo, the Chef – Owner waits on us!  The pasta is hand made………no machines….

grosetto13The Cheeses are aromatic and delightful…

grosetto12the Seafood fresh and delightful…….

grosetto14What a delightful and enchanting visit we have had here in Grosseto…….now it is off to bed to dream of the rest of the journey ahead….

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……….until next time ciao!

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Avignon – France

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Avignon  is located in southeastern France bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a place I have dreamed of visiting since I was around ten years old.

When we checked into the hotel and opened the window, we were greeting with an amazing view of the Palais des Papes

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Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism.

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Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.

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In addition, its historic center, the palace of the popes,

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 and the bridge of Avignon………..

……… Pont d’Avignon  Only four of the eighteen piles are left; on one of them stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.are well-preserved.

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But the bridge is best known for the famous French song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

In 1309 the city, still part of the Kingdom of Arles, was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence, and from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377 was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome.

The Palais des Papes is an amazing building….

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By choosing to “move” the Vatican to Avignon Clement caused a schism in the Catholic Church.

At the time, the city and the surrounding Comtat Venaissin were ruled by the kings of Sicily of the house of Anjou.

The French King Philip the Fair, who had inherited from his father all the rights of Alphonse de Poitiers (the last Count of Toulouse), made them over to Charles II, King of Naples and Count of Provence (1290).

Nonetheless, Philip was a shrewd ruler. Inasmuch as the eastern banks of the Rhone marked the edge of his kingdom,

when the river flooded up into the city of Avignon, Philip taxed the city since during periods of flood, the city technically lay within his domain…..interesting tax laws!

Here the flood levels were recorded ….

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The Popes who resided in the Palais des Papes were

Clement V: 1305–1314

John XXII: 1316–1334

Benedict XII: 1334–1342

Clement VI: 1342–1352

Innocent VI: 1352–1362

Urban V: 1362–1370

Gregory XI: 1370–1378

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This period from 1309–1377 – the Avignon Papacy – was also called the Babylonian Captivity of exile, in reference to the Israelites‘ enslavement in biblical times.

The inside of the Palais is eerie and haunting…

europe2 799It feels strange to walk these empty rooms and hallways….

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….and of course there is the garden of the Rocher des Doms…

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Now time for some lunch at 46 Bistro……….escargot …….of course…

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…then a walk about town……to the place to be…………the Place de l’Horloge..

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….looks like these two have been sitting around here for a while…

…amazing Carrousel…La Belle Epoque…

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We visited the most wonderful Musee Lapidaire, CLICK HERE to read about that visit…..

……………..we encountered wonderful architecture, as we strolled about….

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….of course the cafes attract our attention….

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….and we decide to have dinner at lou Mistrau….beautiful outdoor dining with wind shields….good because it is quite nippy….

we begin with………….you guessed it escargot…..the best we have ever eaten…

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….followed by my very favorite dish on the planet…..Cassoulet……

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….then perhaps some beef and potatoes….

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……ahhh but let us not forget dessert and cappuccino ….

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walking about we encounter these wonderful ladies dressed in vintage clothing….

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It has been a most wonderful visit, filled with discovery, wonderment, lavender, culinary delights…..

…..but we must move on….

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