Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Home Sweet Home!


Talk about a l-o-n-g day! Whew! We were up and out of the Chateau by 7 a.m. and to CDG by a little after 8. The nice people at the Red Carpet Club let us stay with Mom there, which was nice. The flight was 9 1/2 hours long to Chicago, but very uneventful. I watched "The Back-Up Plan" once; it was OK; not great, then watched "The Losers" something like three times. I really enjoyed it! It was very funny in parts! Not sure what Mom did, but she said she enjoyed herself and slept most of the way to Chicago!

Once we were there, scooted through customs and immigration very quickly, then shuttled between the international terminal and United's regular terminals. Only bummer was having to re-clear security yet again. However, after that we went to the International 1st Class Lounge, and they were very gracious -- we all got to spend the day there! (Mom had a 2 1/2 hour layover; we had 7 hours!) Lots of good food available; nice clean and quiet space. I took Mom over to terminal F and got her on the Detroit flight, then came back and R and I got dinner -- some very good grilled hot dogs! Our flight was on time -- got off the ground about 9 p.m.

TERRIFIC movie -- "Letters to Juliet" -- as well as an episode of Big Bang Theory. R slept the entire way across country. Landed about 10, got luggage fairly easily, then picked up the rental car. Got to the Best Western Tempe by the Mall about 11 and went straight to bed.

Up at 4 and on the road in minutes. In spite of a completely freeway stopping accident, we were home by 6:30 a.m. It is now 12:27 p.m. and everything is unpacked and put away. Laundry is done, and I'm contemplating ironing...hmmm...

We really had a wonderful trip, and we are SO glad that you were able to join us!
Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions!

So, closing until the next time!
Much love,

Monday, September 27, 2010

And the last pictures of this trip!

More of the Chateau and of course, food!

And so, back to France!

Monday, 27 September 2010

Bonjour encore une fois!

Yes, that’s right, we’re back in France! Up this morning about 6, and down to the lobby by 6:30 a.m. R was waiting with the luggage at 7 a.m. when right on the dot, the water taxi driver showed up! It was an interesting morning, as there was a great deal of lightning to the south, with rolling clouds and sporadic rain drops all around! Quite a feat to get luggage AND Mom on the boat all in one piece, but we managed and then sat back for a really lovely boat ride! We went down the Grand Canal and then crossed through on a canal that ran to the right of the Hotel Londra Palace and popped out near Ospitale vaparetto stop. From there it was high speed past Murano and right to the dock of Marco Polo Airport! It was a splurge, but definitely a must with Mom and luggage – really glad we did it!

Arrived at Marco Polo about 7:30 a.m. and had to wait 15 or 20 minutes to be able to check in our luggage to Paris Orly Airport. Had some breakfast – sandwiches and Mom had an “American” cup of coffee, so all was well, the proceeded to the gate. Somehow once again we managed to grab the two front aisle seats across from each other, with Mom in the aisle seat behind Robert – makes us literally the first ones off the plane! Ride was fine; very short, something like an hour and 20 minutes. Landed about noon, luggage off quickly and then we took the Orly Val shuttle train to Orly Ouest (we landed at Orly Sud, but all the rental cars at at Ouest). Picked up the Hertz car with no problem, and then headed out towards Ermenonville. Drove the Périphérique heading north and then headed out towards Charles de Gaulle. I hadn’t wanted to stop for lunch until we were outside of Paris, so just stopped at a McDonald’s at the exit to Ermenonville. That way we would still have room for dinner!

Back at the Chateau d’Ermenonville once again – and it’s just lovely! They are working on updating the rooms and the facility, and things are looking noticeably spiffier than last time we were here a year or so ago. We really do love this place, and Mom had also wanted to return, as we brought her here some years ago. We’ve got rooms 209 and 210 on the second floor, and they’re lovely! Beautiful bathroom fixtures, and a GREAT tub that I’m going to use tomorrow! Nicely decorated, good lighting and warm – what more could we ask for?! Took a walk around the grounds; just lovely. Trees starting to turn colors, and it is definitely fall here now, not summer! Brrrr…! Had a glass of wine in the lounge and then back upstairs for a rest before dinner.

Out again about 6:30 and to Chantilly for dinner. We had hoped to eat at the wonderful hotel/restaurant across the street from the Chateau, but of course, it being Monday – they’re closed! So, drove into Chantilly and past the chateau and equestrian center and into town. Found a hotel restaurant on a corner called L’Avenue and their menu looked good. But WOW – their food was TERRIFIC! Incredible presentation and a great ending to all our wonderful dinners in France and Italy! I had a starter of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese with balsamic vinegar. R had smoked salmon with eggplant caviar – said it was great. Mom ordered a large Salade Italienne, which included prosciutto, tomatoes, mozzarella, melon and lettuce – said she enjoyed it very much! R’s main course was duck breast cooked medium rare which came coated in a poppy seed/sesame seed crust – many of which managed to get stuck between his teeth! This was served with mashed potatoes. My main course was chicken breast in a great sauce with more mashed potatoes with marinated tomatoes and lettuce. YUM! Mom’s dessert was a huge dish of berries – black, blue, rasp and straw – on top of a serving of raspberry sorbet, all topped off with Chantilly cream. R’s dessert had the same basic berries, only with a strawberry coulee, a scoop of raspberry sorbet AND more Chantilly cream. All in all, a great way to wind up a terrific 90th birthday trip!

Back in the hotel now, and settled in for the night. Our plan is to be out the door at 7 a.m. for an early check-in at CDG. Now let’s just hope we can find the rental car return this time…
Lots of love,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

And finally, dinner!

And again, more Burano!

Our last day in Italy!

Sunday, 26 September 2010


Wow! What an incredible day it has been, and we haven’t even gotten to dinner yet!
Up around the usual time, and down for breakfast at 8 a.m. Good breakfast – salami and prosciutto, rolls, cheese, hard boiled eggs – I do like all that for breakfast, including some wonderful sweet chocolate bread cut into small squares … YUM! (We need to enjoy it now, as we have to leave early tomorrow morning for the airport!) R logged in to check email, and I talked to one of the owners about getting to the airport. Decided to take a water taxi, as three bridges between us and the vaparetto at Zattere, and one of the special boats to the airport from this end of the island doesn’t start running until 9 a.m. It is a splurge, of course, but figure that with luggage and Mom, it will be the easiest way all around – and we won’t have to fight our way on to or off of any boats. Water taxi scheduled for 7 a.m.!

Out about 9 a.m. and heading to Salute. There was no place to buy boat passes, so we hopped on a #1 for free and rode over to San Zaccaria near San Marco. (Talk about scofflaws!) Bought 24 hour passes for the three of us – at 18 E each, they were expensive! (Public transportation here SO much more expensive than in Rome! There, we got 7 DAY passes on all buses and metro for 16 E each. Here it is 18 E for 24 hours, although I believe that things got comparatively cheaper the longer the time – something like 7 days for 50 E…) So…off we went, on a #42 that took us along the waterfront, past the bianelle grounds and around the corner to let us off at Fondamente Nove. There we caught another vaparetto out to Burano. Now, please note: Murano is where all the glass is blown. Burano is where the lace is made. And, for a lovely and relaxing change of pace, Torchello and Burano are the places to go! Took about half an hour to get out there – beautiful, sunny day. We got off at the first stop on Burano and strolled through the neighborhood and admired the water and the parks. Burano is really lovely, especially because of their painted houses! They use the most incredible colors, and all jammed together, it’s a great sight to see!

Walked into the public part of town to admire the lace (did see an older woman working on a beautiful piece!) and look in shop windows. Found a nice place under an umbrella for lunch, watching the rest of the world pass by! Fun to see neighbors coming home from church and greeting each other, all mixed in with tourists of every nationality. For lunch, Mom started with bean soup, which she said was delicious. From there, she tried her first gnocchi with meat sauce, which was the same thing that I had. It was delicious! R had a plate of penne and a spicy sauce, which was excellent. Started with Prosecco, ended with red wine; Mom stuck to white wine. Mom finished her repast with tiramisu, which she has had before, but didn’t remember. She started out not caring for it too much, but by the time it had entirely disappeared, she had changed her mind. I got my usual gelato at a nearby shop – will really miss it when we leave Italy tomorrow!

Wandered through the square and out the other side, finally turning back to make our way to the vaparetto stop. And, we saw aqua alta! (Italian for high water!) The tides sometimes rise so much that the streets will flood, at which times wooden platforms with legs about a foot long are set out to form a path to walk on. Have never seen it before in action – where the tide washes up on the sidewalk, although it seems that we’ve seen the stored platforms before, probably at San Marco square.
Got a vaparetto heading back toward Venice, and actually went in a full circle and out by Piazalle Roma and the train station from yesterday! Just stayed on the vaparetto, as it worked its way back around to San Zaccaria, where we again got off and found the #1 toward Rialto. Took that two stops to Salute, and voila, we were back at the Ca Zose! An interesting thing, though – we had a ticket inspector on one of the boats – on a Sunday! Fortunately, we were covered and were scofflaws no more! – so note: They do check, even when you think they won’t! Glad we didn’t get caught last night or this morning! I think the fine is something like 50 E each!
Back about 4:30 to the hotel for a rest. Out for dinner in about half an hour!

More later!

Dinner update! Up and out at 7 p.m. and walked over to Taverna San Trovaso at the recommendation of the hotel owner. Terrific place – great food, within reasonable walking distance, and good prices! What a great combination! I think we got the last free table that would accommodate three people. After that, they were turning people without reservations away! (Except for what appeared to be a HUGE tour group of some sort – French, at least 50+ people who were quickly whisked away to an upstairs room!)

Mom had vegetables – three separate plates of spinach, incredible grilled peppers and wonderful eggplant. R and I had the “menu touristico” – R choosing the penne with tomato sauce for starters, and me their great vegetable soup. Both R and I had chicken breast with lemon and spinach for mains. Dessert for Mom was an amazing meringue cake with lemon, and I had their chocolate “truffle” – vanilla ice cream in the center, surrounded by chocolate ice cream and the whole mess powdered with cocoa! It was GREAT! R drank his dessert – Amaretto – as did his mother in law.
Very lovely dinner and a terrific farewell to Italy! We’ll be out early in the morning!