FC: Diane & Scott's | European Vacations | 1994-2004
1: France 1994
2: Hotel Saints Pere | In Paris we spent our four nights in a two level loft room at Hotel Saints Pere, a 17th century mansion in the heart of the St. Germaine district. We ate our breakfasts on the outside terrace of nearby Les Deux Magots where I consistently enjoyed my traditional Parisian breakfast of pane au chocolat and hot chocolate.
3: Maureen and I selected Paris and Provence for our first European "girls" trip. We knew we would manage in Paris without the boys (although we obviously would miss them), but Provence meant driving and navigating on our own. Maureen was an excellent navigator, even though we did find ourselves circling the round-abouts a few times before we figured out which way to go. And then there was this issue with driving a standard transmission and remembering to use the clutch that I struggled with at times. But we made it and had a great time! | Paris
4: . | From Paris we took the train to Avignon for our visit to Provence. We stayed three nights at Le Vieux Castillon in the Provence village of Castillion du Gard. Our hotel was a beautiful Relais & Chateaux property with Romanesque architecture and panoramic views of vineyards. | Le Vieux Castillon
7: Castillion du Gard
8: . | Camargue
9: The immense 8000 acre French marsh land between the Rhone and the sea is an incredible zoological and botanical reserve. Pink flamingos, the "Camargue" bull, and over 400 species of animals inhabit the vicinity. On our first trip to the Camargue with Joe and Scott there were not any significant animal sitings but on this trip with camera in hand, Maureen was able to not only capture a herd of wild horses but also me on top of car roof witnessing the exciting moment.
10: Scott and I flew on Thanksgiving night to London for a week vacation. The weather was cool and rainy, but it did not deter us from visiting the traditional sites. Maureen and Joe joined us for a portion of the trip. The UK was the first English speaking European country we had visited which made navigating and communicating much less intimidating. We quickly learned the meaning of several of the Brits different terms. My favorite was "Mind the Gap". (Watch out for the opening between the station platform and the train). We liked walking the different neighborhoods in London and enjoyed both plays we attended.
11: Oxford | London 1995
14: From London, Scott and I took an enjoyable day trip to visit Oxford. The University of Oxford was impressive. Arguably the most famous university in the world, Oxford has been a center of learning since 1167 and is the oldest university in the UK. The Radcliffe Camera (camera is Latin for room) is the unique round library designed by James Gibbs in the mid 18th century and is the main reading room of the Bodleian Library.
16: Jardin du Palais Royal | France 2000
17: The new millennium began with a very special and beautiful trip to Paris, the French Riviera and a variety of charming hilltop towns in southern France. We enjoyed the magnificent spring tulips throughout the city and revisiting some of our favorite places and restaurants. For the first time, we visited the Musee Rodin and enjoyed the sculptures and the manicured gardens. | Paris
18: Musee Rodin
21: La Bastide de Moustiers | Our stay at La Bastide de Moustiers was five years after legendary restaurateur Alain Ducasse opened his country inn. Situated in the heart of the Provence region and at the foot of the village of Moustiers, we had impressive views of the Moustiers-Sainte Marie cliff. The 17th century house was intimate with only eleven rooms individually designed and named to evoke a particular provincial theme. Our rooms were the "Pumpkin" and "Rose" rooms. The inn's original library served as our own intimate dining room where we enjoyed an incredible meal..
23: Moustiers-Sainte-Marie | During our stay at Alain Ducasse's La Bastide, we visited the small village that clings to the side of a limestone cliff. Outside the village I stopped for a photo at a waterfall from a spring flowing from the cliff.
24: In the valley of the Var region overlooking rows of grapes was famed French chef Bruno Loubet's unique restaurant specializing in black truffles. We dined on the patio and enjoyed both our meal and ambiance. Our only disappointment was that the gift shop was closed.
26: We spent one night in Saint Tropez in the old quarter at Hotel La Ponche. The famous harbor, fashionable boutiques and sites were conveniently located to our hotel once we battled the congested auto traffic surrounding the town.
27: Saint Tropez
28: We visited the enchanting St. Paul de Vence, a medieval fortified village with wrap-around views. Perched on a hill between two deep valleys, St. Paul has attracted artists for years with its beautiful light and surroundings.
29: St. Paul de Vence
30: La Colombe d'Or
31: Our lodging was just outside St. Paul de Vence at the rose-stone Renaissance mansion of La Colombe d'Or. Art treasures from Miro,Chagall, Calder, Leger, and more surrounded us on the dining room walls. In the earlier days of the inn, art was often exchanged by artists and the owners for a stay or a few meals. La Colombe d'Or was a favorite place for many French artists including Picasso and Chagall.
32: Chapelle du Rosaire
33: In neighboring Vence we toured Henri Matisse's Chapelle Du Rosaire. The chapel that opened in 1951 was conceived by Henri Matisse and was the first time a painter entirely designed every detail of a monument. The unique art monument was very simple with pure colors used against a white background.
34: Cannes | Centered around the old port, Cannes is famous for the May International Film Festival, glitzy hotels, cars, beaches and abundance of tourists.
37: We spent one night in the charming town at Roger Verge's Le Moulin de Mougins. That evening we ate at L'Amandier. | Located four miles from Cannes, Mougins is known as the medieval village where Picasso lived the last years of his life.
39: Food markets are an intrinsic part of daily French life and experiencing the Southern France markets was great fun. Buzzing with life, full of color, aromas and sounds, they are treasures of gastronomic delight. Joe and Scott especially enjoy sampling all the food and Maureen and I never tire shopping for provincial linens. | Markets
41: The tiny city-state of Monaco was an enjoyable half day visit. The town exudes glamor with its yachts, sport cars, luxury shops and palatial hotels. We toured the Palais Princier and the Old Casino and walked along the promenade along with throngs of tourists.
43: Nice has been a popular tourist destination for centuries. Inhabited for 400,000 years the city retains it medieval heritage in the VieIlle Ville (Old Town). We enjoyed walking its narrow winding streets and closely-packed red-tiled roofs of old buildings. We especially enjoyed Southern France's most famous market, Cours Saleya.
44: Ten minutes from Nice is the boutique-lined staircase streets of the enchanting medieval cliff-side village of Eze. We stayed at the fabled Relais & Chateaux property, Chateau de la Chevre d'Or. The stunning views overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, charming rooms and great food made for a memorable stay. | Eze
47: Chateau de la Chevre d'Or
48: Milan | We began our trip in Milan, Italy's commercial center of business, fashion, music and design. We spent our two nights at Hotel de la Ville. | Milan
49: Italy 2003 | One of our favorite sites in Milan was the four-story double arcade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II; one of the world's oldest shopping malls.
50: Venice was unlike any other town we had visited. The city consists of 118 small islands separated by canals and linked by bridges. As our water taxi approached the main island the cityscape of stone buildings seemed to float on water. After exiting the taxi for our two day visit, Scott and I ventured off to find our hotel la Fenice et des Artistes as the Cirritos settled into their hotel Londra Palace. Deciphering street names and finding signs made Venice difficult to navigate. It took us almost one hour to find our hotel that was only a couple blocks away from where our water taxi ferried us.
51: Venice | Our first evening we ate at Ile Corte Sconto and although they specialize in seafood they prepared a pasta especially for me. Maureen and I especially enjoyed visiting the island of Murano and visiting the tiny boutiques selling delicate glasswares. We each purchased several pieces.
58: We took the hotel water taxi to visit the lovely Hotel Cipriani and enjoy brunch. Although the hotel property was beautiful, Joe got food poisoning and spent one full day in Venice in bed recovering.
60: Verona | Founded by the Romans in the 1st Century AD, the northern Italian City of Verona is a combination of pretty palazzi, elegant squares and medieval gems. Known as the city of Romeo and Juliet and the Roman Arena, many architectural remnants of the Roman Era exist. We spent our one night in Verona at the 5-star Hotel Due Torri. That evening we walked to the nearby Michelin Star restaurant Ristorante La Fontanina. The dinner special was Carne de Cavallo which Maureen conveyed to Scott meant "horse meat, but Scott thinking she was chiding him asked the waiter who confirmed it was indeed horse meat!
62: We spent our two nights in Florence at the Hotel Lungarno. Situated on the south bank of the Arno the hotel was located close to the Ponte Vecchio.
63: Florence | Since we visited the most important sites on our previous trip, we we devoted our time to enjoying the incredibly romantic city, great shopping and superb Tuscan food.
66: Lake Como
67: The enchanting shores of Lake Como have attracted the world's elite for centuries. Since the days of the Roman Empire, Como has been regarded worldwide as Italy's prestige romantic lake. Lake Como is one of the most beautiful places we have visited with its stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and clear blue lake. Picturesque towns and villages encircle the lake with many luxurious converted castles, hillside chalets and beautiful villas. We stayed at the Albergo Terminus a 19th century building on the shores of Lake Como.
68: Villa D'Este
70: Our trip with the Hoffmann's and Robertson's began with three nights in London before venturing to Scotland. Scott and I stayed close to the US Embassy at the Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square. Although this was our second trip to London, we re-visited most of the traditional sites; Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and of course, Harrod's. We especially enjoyed touring the Tower of London on this visit and seeing the crown jewels which we were unable to see on our first London stay.
71: London 2004
74: To enjoy the scenery between London and Scotland, we rented a small van and began our sightseeing adventure. Getting use to driving on the left side of the road was not easy for Scott who did most of the driving. After a full day of driving we arrived at our first hotel in Blairgowrie, Scotland; the Kinloch House. The luxurious country house hotel located in the Central Highlands blends all the elegance and style of the past with the amenities of a first-class hotel. Dinner that night was excellent and after a long day of driving we enjoyed relaxing in our beautiful lodging. | Kinloch House
75: Scotland 2004
76: Towering over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland's past during the 13th and 14th centuries, we visited Stirling Castle on our second day in Scotland. Highlights of our visit included visiting The Royal Palace, one of the finest and best preserved Renaissance buildings in Great Brittan. Built by King James V between 1538 and 1542 I especially enjoyed the magnificent hand-woven unicorn tapestries and the guys enjoyed the canons and wall-walks that were an important feature of the castle's defenses. | Stirling Castle
78: The drive from Stirling Castle to the Isle of Skye was a nail biter. A heavy rain minimized our ability to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but when the rain cleared the views were spectacular. We spent our two nights on Skye at the Viewfield House in Portree. The charming house with Victorian interior was built over 200 years ago. The owner Hugh Macdonald was fascinating as he shared his knowledge and experiences of Scotland. One of the highlights of the trip was when one of the Scottish guests offered Robby the chance to wear a kilt. | Viewfield House
79: Isle of Skye
80: For our one night in Inverness, we stayed at Bunchrew House, a 16th century country house hotel. Situated adjacent to the sea on the Beauly Firth, we experienced fabulous views over the sea to the mountains beyond. | Bunchrew House
82: The Edradour
83: One of Scott's favorite activities on the trip was our tour of The Edradour Scottish distillery. The distillery was located close to the charming town of Pitlochry. Our tour included a history of Edradour and the whiskey maker's art, in addition to seeing scotch being hand-crafted as it was in the Victorian times. And of course, the tasting of scotch.
84: St. Andrews
85: Everyone enjoyed The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. After viewing the old stone Swilcan Bridge on the 18th hole of the old course we had lunch at one of the golf course restaurants. After viewing the remainder of the sites, we visited the British Golf Museum. The museum explores the centuries-old relationship between St. Andrews and golf in addition to displaying golf memorabilia.
86: We spent our last two night in Scotland In Edinburgh at The Channing. The Edwardian Edinburgh townhouse hotel was comfortable yet elegant. The Channing was a perfect choice for our stay as it was located on a quiet residential street but convenient to the sites. Our time in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital City, was limited but enjoyable. We especially enjoyed the ancient streets of the Royal Mile but were disappointed that tours were suspended at the Palace of Holyroodhouse (official residence of the UK monarch) as Price Charles was residing at the palace during our visit.
88: Edinburgh Castle
89: Edinburgh Castle stands on volcanic rock high above the city and has a history going back over 2000 years although the present structure dates from 1000 years ago. Withstanding over five centuries of sieges and occupations, the castle is remarkably preserved. We were amazed with the wealth of Scottish history we learned on our tour.