Posts Tagged With: Food

The Way of St. Francis: The trail is closed

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Today we faced a new trekking challenge: a closed trail. Still many miles from our destination, we stood before a sign threatening penalties (arrest?) if we crossed the tape strung across the Way of St. Francis. What should we do? Turn around and go back?

A 15-mile day loomed, so we had set out from Pieve Santo Stefano before 8 this Sunday morning. Today’s trek began with a hill that was only a few hundred feet in elevation, but it was a tough beginning nonetheless. But it was nothing compared to the steep descent over loose rock that was like walking down a rockslide. They call this a trail? My knees were still wobbly when we soon climbed another 800 feet. We found a place to rest our feet and I promptly took a power nap that Sue photographed for the record.

Stunning views of the Tuscan countryside made it all worthwhile. Then we crossed a bridge over a reservoir finger and the Way of St. Francis became a windy country road complete with hot pavement. We found a sliver of shade for a picnic lunch, then continued along the road another couple of miles. Motorcycles, bicycles and cars sped by us. The guidebook and our GPS map told us to take a sharp left onto a gravel trail (no more pavement!). Then we saw it. The closed iron gate across the path, the tape strung next to it, the warning not to pass, the decision.

I looked at our map on Galileo Pro. If we continued on the road, it would take us many miles out of our way. Turning around was not an option, so we lifted the tape after deciding to take a chance. After less than 100 yards, we stopped as we approached a farmhouse. Did we really want to risk a night in jail?

Back on the legal side of the tape, we enlarged the map on my phone and saw a thin white line a half mile down the road that connected to the trail. Was the line a path? Would the trail section it led to be open? We decided to take a chance on the digital map and the white line turned out to be a farm road that led us back to the Way of St. Francis. As luck would have it, we were just past the closed section.

So, relief was the word of this day. We walked atop a levee for several hours, past large  farms. Tractors plowed (even on a Sunday) and the temperature climbed. A short detour allowed us to rest in some shade.

When we finally arrived in the bustling city of Sansepolcro, we found the narrow way where our hotel was supposed to be. Before frustration set in, a tall, thin young man, figuring these two wandering souls wearing backpacks must be the Americans who reserved a room at his hotel, greeted us. He pointed to the hotel sign in the wall. How could we have missed it? It was about two-by-three inches and perfectly readable if you stood less than a foot away.

Our day ended at a wonderful restaurant after a couple of strong beers at a plaza bar.

 

 

Categories: The Way of Saint Francis, The Way of St Francis | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One-two punch: Pleasing pie, roaring river

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Rushing at 410,000 gallons a minute, the Rogue River roared for us today. Our visit to the Rogue Gorge above Medford followed by lunch next door at the rustic Beckie’s Restaurant. The meal was very good, but to be honest, it was just the opening act for Beckie’s legendary pie. We shared pieces of huckleberry and chocolate cream. The community of Union Creek is a popular stop on the way to Crater Lake National Park.

 

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Categories: Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lake of the Woods Rewards

Our local weather forecast promises a wet week ahead so we took advantage of the sunshine today, grabbed our friends Lan and Jeff and headed for the hills.

Lake of the Woods, about 30 miles east of Ashland, Oregon, is one of our favorite day trips. As we walked along the water’s edge, we were rewarded when swirling clouds revealed a view of the 9,495 foot peak of Mount McLoughlin looming over the Lake.

During warm summer months the waters of Lake of the Woods are alive with boaters, kayakers and children splashing along the shore. Winter months offer a cold and quiet beauty…and (Friday -Sunday) Lake of the Woods Pizzeria, a cozy spot to enjoy the view, an afternoon bite to eat and visit with good friends.

Categories: Ashland life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Monterey Getaway

We packed our bags, loaded our bikes and made a quick getaway Tuesday morning, escaping the smoke filled Oregon skies and daily thumping overhead as the new roof project continues back home. Our destination? Monterey, California where the only things cooler than coastal temps are competing restaurant signs.


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Backroads Across America: Squeezing in Our Campground

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We’re spending the night in southern Virginia where spring is just beginning to show its colors.  Our campsite was surrounded by trees, but there was barely a leaf to be seen.  It looked quite winter-like.

A good night for what Reg calls “Comfort Food.”

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Although he rolled his eyes when I dropped this in our grocery cart the other day, we thoroughly enjoyed our Deluxe Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner, incredibly easy to make with the enclosed packet of squeeze cheese!

And what better way to dine on this gourmet delight than from good old fashioned TV trays!  Bon Appétit!

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Categories: Backroads Across America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tour du Mont Blanc: Downhill all the way

What a treat it was to enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning, knowing that we had only a short walk back to Chamonix, the starting and finishing point of our Tour du Mont Blanc. Plenty of time for a second cup of coffee!

We chose the path along the River L'Arve for our final 5 1/2 mile walk.

This looked like a tiny strawberry growing alongside the trail.

Clouds prevented us from seeing Mont Blanc in Chamonix when we began our trek. Clear skies today allowed the mountain to dominate. We have yet to tire of this view.

We arrived in Chamonix just in time for lunch, where we enjoyed a Mozza Salad at a little sidewalk cafe.

 

 

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France: Life hums on the sidewalks

We discovered a new area of Strasbourg tonight. Just ahead, on the right, was a string of bars and cafes, some on boats.

A couple of young guys at a French bar ordered this bière on tap!

Notes from France

Does anyone drink and eat at home in France (other than us)? Tonight, after our dinner at our Strasbourg apartment, we went for a long walk. There were thousands and thousands out and about. And it did not seem crowded, although most seats were filled. That's because Strasbourg has more cafes, bars, squares and neighborhoods than people (only slightly exaggerating). Of course, it was the same in Paris. Every day and evening have been like this.

Families and couples. Young and old. College kids. Teen-agers. Walking, sitting at sidewalk cafes and bars. Kids riding carousels, yelling “cou cou!” or “yoohoo!” Some are tourists, but most are not (I have a sense about this.) Is this socializing a reason the French live so long?

There is another side to this coin and it is smoking. So many people, from teens on up, smoking, one cigarette after another. Other than inside stores and restaurants, it is okay to light up. That romantic table outside in the square can quickly be surrounded by smokers. We were able, most of the time, to avoid it when we drank or ate outside, though.

Do you think Europe is becoming more Americanized? We feel as though it is. More English language, spoken and written, especially on menus. McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway, Burger King. Baseball caps, worn by locals, not necessarily Americans. T-shirts with brand names or other words written on the front and back. Hamburgers and fries on most menus.

We don't remember it being this way when we lived in Scotland and visited France 19 years ago. Our trips the past four years have revealed a different Europe. But, we saw much of the same in China in 2007.

On the one hand, some of this makes our travel easier. But … (Anyone want to finish this? We would love to hear from you…add your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this post.)

 

 

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When in France…

This enthusiastic Frenchman's spirit was contagious.

The France vs. Germany semi-final Euro Cup match was cause for celebration in Strasbourg tonight. Crowds gathered early, grabbing good seats in the few cafes with outdoor TV screens.

We were lucky enough to find a good seat, a great meal and entertaining company for an evening of good natured cheers and jeers.

A France victory made for a happy ending…at least for most of the crowd.

 

 

 

It was standing room only in the square around the cathedral. A busy night for the servers at this cafe. If you look closely, you can spot me in my pink tee shirt, sitting near the back.

Dinner was surprisingly good for a cafe in such a busy tourist area.

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Paris: A most walkable city

If you want to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, you need reservations months in advance. You can walk the first two levels, though, for 5€

It was Sunday, a bit chilly and overcast in Paris. Not a bad day for a walkabout. Our neighborhood bakery was closed, so we had to settle for a breakfast baguette from a grocery store, with the usual butter and jam. We packed a few picnic items and were off, walking first along the Seine several miles to the Eiffel Tower.

Zigzagging through neighborhoods, we found Luxembourg Garden, 60 acres filled with virtually everything a park should have. It oozed relaxation and many parts of the park looked like an impressionist painting brought to life. Lots of people about, children playing in the huge playground, men playing bocce ball, teenagers being kids, and people of all ages sitting as time passed.

The garden was quintessentially French, a place where life seems unhurried.

Sue enjoys one of the many small area and sculptures in Luxembourg Garden.

Remote-controlled sailboats in front of Luxembourg Palace at the park.

A group wrestling match is frozen in time at Luxembourg Garden.

A caramel crepe, a chair and the Luxembourg Garden made a perfect treat.

Paris remains in a state of emergency since the terrorist attacks and heavily armed military and police officers are everywhere. Patrolling vehicles are visible from almost every corner.

 

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Paris: A city that embraces the love of food

Our great friend Carolyn in Santa Barbara, California, requested some food photos, so walked across the Seine to the Saint Michel/Left Bank area this Saturday night. This area of Paris is changing, becoming more oriented to the tourist with three-course discounted offerings with sales pitches at every turn. Lots and lots of pizza. It remind us a bit of the big plazas in Rome.

The crepes were tempting.

Sue wanted quiche, but we could not find a place that served it. Go figure! But, our patience paid off after more than an hour of walking. We found a fantastic Thai place and the server and food were perfect. Très bien!

It was tough to resist the escargot.

Parts of the Left Bank are mazes of narrow streets filled with cafes.

The cheese selection...magnifique!

Next time you are in Paris, we highly recommend Khao Thai! This beef dish was spicy hot.

 

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