trip report

Switzerland: Skydiving The Alps & Plates of Lies

Continuing our journey, our next step was in Zurich, Switzerland. We took a 4 hour or so train from Munich to Zurich. Getting around Zurich is really easy as long as you can get to the main station. Everything feeds out of there and made getting to and from our hotel and the city center a breeze. We set up shop at the Hotel Allegra which was about 15 minutes by train from the main station.  Overall, I found Zurich to be a really nice, clean and accessible city. People spoke english just about every where you would need them to and it made getting around really easy. The one thing I was looking forward to most on this entire trip (along with Oktoberfest) was skydiving over the swiss alps.

switzerland-skydive-me-upside-down-vid

For our first day we didn’t have anything planned and instead just grabbed dinner in the city. Our ‘group leaders’ are vegan and found a place (Hiltl) that worked for them which actually ended up being the oldest vegan restaurant in Switzerland (or maybe just Zurich). I don’t think everyone knew that it was a fully vegan place and seeing things at the buffet like calzones with ham and cheese, or chicken nuggets, was misleading. As my buddy Kevin said after learning of the full vegan menu… “this is a plate of lies”. I don’t mind eating vegan foods, I can eat veggies and fruits… it’s when they try to pass things off for meat that I get sad :(. (more…)


Norway… Beautiful Women, Beautiful Scenery, Outrageous Prices

I am just now realizing that I’ve been traveling for more than a month without an update to the blog. I was in Spain, Ireland and back in London. I’ve done trip reports on Spain already and while Ireland was EXCELLENT, I just didn’t have the motivation to blog. It’s tough to set aside a few hours to update the blog when there is so much awesome shit happening away from the computer. I know you’ve all missed my posts so I am BACK with some info for you from Norway.

selfie in norway's handangerfjord road trip

The plan for Norway was to meet up with some friends from NY who would be doing a 5 country tour for work. They work in the youtube space and are hosting (along with some youtube personalities) a “Tour De Prank”. They have a couple of youtube ‘pranksters’ and they are being sponsored to tour Europe and create videos. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. There would be Keith and Paige who are from Long Island and DJ, their business partner, from Nebraska. Then they had about 5 pranksters and 2 of their wives. (more…)


London Town: Mates, Markets and The Return of the Mexican

While my trip to London wasn’t what I had originally planned it to be, I made the most out of my few days there. The original plan was to meet the writer for my book there for a few days of research. He had to change plans and instead of losing about $800 in airfare and lodging, I decided to play the tourist for a few days.

london thymes river london eye from far

I arrived to Heathrow around 4pm and walked to the underground, stopping along the way for some SIM cards. I  broke my own rule by not making sure the cards worked before leaving the store and, sure enough, the cards I got for my MIFI didn’t work. In a place like Asia it would not have been that big of a deal, but in London those cards cost me around 30 Euros. With no way of getting in touch with this little bodega, I’ve already disputed the charge thru my CC company.

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Lions, Tigers and Lady Boys… O My!

I love me some Chiang Mai. What a cool place to visit and a fun place to hang around for a week. Marina and me were only supposed to be in chiang mai for a couple of days, but after checking the weather down in the islands, we decided to stay longer. The weather was supposed to be pretty ugly and considering the only real things to do in the islands is water related, I decided I would hang in Chiang Mai.

thailand-chiang-mai-tigers-baby-payI have a friend living in CM who I met last december when I was here last so I was looking forward to seeing him and also just looking forward to staying in one place for a little while. We’ve been constantly moving and only spending a few days in any given city. I was really happy to just hang in CM and spend some time with my friend, Phil, and just relax for the last part of my trip. (more…)


Hoi An: Cooking Classes and New Friends

Our trip to the quant little town of Hoi An was a pleasant one. We stayed at the Hoi An Ancient House Village Resort and Spa, which was beautiful. It is surrounded by rice paddies and our villa (we got upgraded on arrival) overlooked the fields. It was excellent.

vietnam-hoi-an-rice-fields-sunset-blue

Trip advisor was a great resource all throughout our trip. If you haven’t used it for travel, you really should. A lot of the restaurants and group tours that we found throughout the month of traveling came off of TA. (more…)


Vespas, Wine Bars, Wind Chimes & Fancy Hats

Saigon

So I made a bit of a booboo when booking our first stop in Vietnam. I honestly had no idea that Saigon and Ho Chi Minh were the same place. I had heard not so great things about Saigon but good things about HCM (in conversations with different people who referred to the city by different names). So after I booked our trip to HCM and realized later that it was Saigon, I was a bit hesitant. However, after spending a few days there, I could not have been more pleasantly surprised.

We got to HCM around 4pm, checked into our hotel (Pullman Saigon Centre) and got up to the room. The hotel is really beautiful and modern looking with funky light fixtures, couches and tables in the rooms. There is also a beautiful pool overlooking the city and the hotel staff (namely the concierge) were excellent.  I was waiting for a replacement debit card and they kept an eye out for it and made arrangements with me incase it didn’t arrive in time. They also had plenty of suggestions for restaurants and helped set us up several times with taxis and transportation to and from the airport. A+ service.

vietnam-saigon-locksmith

We booked a Vespa tour of the city while still in cambodia and we got picked up right around 6pm. It was raining but after confirmation from the tour operator that the trip was, indeed, on, we met the guys on the vespa’s outside the hotel. They had super fancy ponchos ready for us and in a few minutes we were on our way.

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Pig Roasts, Scuba and Bday Parties in Sanur

Our last stop in Bali was in Sanur. We were able to get hooked up with two villas in the same complex, about 200 feet from each other. Our first night there we had a suckling pig on a spit cookout. We made a feast. It was the 15 of us and also some friends of one of the girls parents. It was Sue (julia’s mom) birthday week and we had a great time celebrating with Sue, Allan and their friends.

bali-sanur-pig-on-spit

The next day was an early one as we got picked up for scuba around 730. The whole group was going this time which was great. Some would be snorkeling and some would scuba. We got to the boat dock and headed out for Manta Point (where we’d swim with big manta rays) and Crystal Bay. It was a great day of diving and it was nice to have everyone together.  (more…)


Ubud: Monkeys, Cock Fights & The MOST INSANE VILLA EVER

We left our awesome villas down in seminyak and headed into the mountains. Not knowing what to expect I was about to be pleasantly surprised. We split into 3 vehicles for the approx 2hour ride up to the villa ‘compound’ in Ubud. We stop along the way at Indus, a beautifully situated mountain side restaurant. The view overlooked a deep valley and the mountains on the other side were striking. The food was excellent and we all proceeded on towards the villa.

When I pulled up to the villa and walked around the wall obstructing the view, my jaw dropped. I tried my hardest to get a good shot on my camera, but the angles just weren’t working out. I’ve included a shot from vrbo below. The places was SICK!!! 2 huge villas connected by a tremendous infinity pool all with a view out across to a mountain in the distance. The staff working at the compound was superb and they made us dinner 2 nights and breakfast both mornings. All the food was superb and the large 20 person table was well displayed/presented with food and table settings.

ubud bali whole crew from below

Dinner the first night was chicken satay, rice, veggies, fruit and some kind of curry. All excellent. Breakfast the next morning was american style with eggs, bacon, fruit, sausage, etc.

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Cambodia: Not For Human Consumption

Visa Schmeeza

So here we sit. We are in the airport in Cambodia (siem reap), where we’ve been stranded for a few hours. Poor planning on our part, but apparently you need a visa prior to arrival for vietnam. We thought we could grab one on arrival as we did in cambodia and as you can in many places. Once we were denied checkin, we jumped online to myvietnamvisa.com to try and get our visas arranged. they have an expedited option for 79.00 for two people. After 2 hours, and having not received our email yet with our visa letter, I asked one of the agents at the desk if they could recommend another site. They said to try govietnamvisa.com. I chatted with a support rep there and they assured me we could get a visa within the hour. I canceled the request with myvietnamvisa and paid the $140 for a guaranteed 1 hr turn around. We got our new visa and, having missed our flight, rebooked for a 20$ fee for the new flight. It was an adventure and a lesson learned for sure. Just one more thing in the list of things that cambodia kicked our asses on. More to follow.angkor wat temple in cambodia at sunrise from the front hdr

Back to the start

We had two flights to take to get from Bali to Cambodia. The first was a 4+ hour flight from bali to bangkok and then about 1+ hour flight from bangkok to cambodia. The flights were pretty standard although neither had any entertainment. Getting into cambodia we needed a headshot (again, didnt know this). I happened to have a copy of my passport so they used that. After, I realized I could have just paid a $1 and they would have made a copy of my passport photo.

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Bali Butt, Roosters, BBQ, Sushi and Submarines

Our first stop in Bali was over in Seminyak. Once I got through immigration I was greeted by the driver from our villa. We made a stop to pick up sim cards for my phone (unlocked iphone) and mifi unit (this one). It took about 30 minutes and cost about $40 for everything. There is just something very reassuring and comforting knowing that you have cell service wherever you are. Lots of the other people on the trip relied on wifi at restaurants or bars, but I prefer to have the constant connection. It gives me a bit of peace of mind to know that if I get separated or lost, I can just pull out my phone and make a call or pull up google maps.. It’s also important for me to have ‘reliable’ (this is said with a grain of salt in asia) wifi seeing as most hotels or in this case villas have TERRIBLE wifi connections and I would need to be doing some work during the trip.

Seminyak is pretty accessible although it is a complete free-for-all when it comes to driving on the road. Between the scooters and taxis, you really have to pay attention to whats going on. The area we stayed in was pretty well populated and our villa was located just a few short turns off the main strip. The beach was about a 10 minute walk and all the shops and restaurants we need were between us and there. If you are interested in getting a villa here in bali, you should check out Villa Zara in seminyak.

our villa and cabana in seminyak, bali indonesia

I arrived at the villa and was greeted by everyone with a big “happy birthday” (it was my 30th on the day of my arrival).We had secured two villas right next to each other which made making plans and partying super easy. We divided up the rooms and starting boozing. Each villa had 4 bedrooms surrounding a large pool area.

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Off To Asia, Again.

If you are connected to me at all on social media you know that I am currently in Asia (first stop Bali) for a month long excursion. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. I thought that a 7.5 week trip (last nov-dec) would help subdue my travel bug, but alas, it has not. This trip all came together when a buddy of mine invited me to join a group of his friends in Bali for 10 days. I looked up some flight options, checked my points balances over on AwardWallet.com and the next day made my commitment. Ill try to give a brief explanation here about the flights I took with the costs. There are a LOT of flights this month and a lot of moving parts.

The Trip

If you’ve read any of this blog you know I am a miles and points junky and never pass up a good opportunity for a big win. So, now I am in Bali. How did I get here, you might ask. How much did it cost? Did I fly with miles or pay out of pocket?

The plan is to stay with my buddy and his friends here in Bali (Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur) for about 9-10 nights and then travel on with my new friend, Marina (who I met through this trips facebook group), to Cambodia for 3 days then Vietnam for about 8 nights and then spend 6 nights in Thailand. When I threw it out to the group to see if anyone wanted to continue traveling beyond the bali portion, Marina jumped right on board. She is traveling for more than 6 months after quitting her job and getting rid of her house. I was more than happy to have a travel buddy as I tend to travel alone a lot and was looking forward to having someone to share my experiences with. We met when I moved to san diego and realized very quickly that we would mesh well as travel companions.

The round trip flight cost me exactly…. wait for it…. $45. Total Freaking Score. I was able to book the flight with the help of Trav over at extrapackofpeanuts.com. I would normally book this myself, but it was a complicated routing (explained below) so I thought I would secure the help of a real award flight booking pro.

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Cross Country Roundtrip

I left nearly a month ago to move myself cross country from NY to San Diego, California. It was a big move obviously and just another move in an ongoing mission to keep my life interesting. I am looking for adventure and experiences and felt that, besides overseas travel, a cross country move would be a good way to achieve that.

I just leased a new 2014 Chrysler 200, packed my entire life (or as much of it as I could fit) into it, and got on the road. After chatting with people who had made the drive I decided to take the southern route. The “straight across” route was very boring and the northern route would mean contending with weather and also adding several days onto the trip. Furthermore, I had a bunch of places to stay along the southern route. Family in Maryland and friends in Charleston, Alabama and Phoenix would put me up and save me some cash for my hotel stays.

house-on-the-way-to-charleston-1-2

The drive to Marlyand was short and sweet. I left NY around 430am to avoid traffic and arrived at my cousins around 8. I had a great time hanging with their kids and had some tapas with friends who live in town for dinner. The next day I left bright and early for my 8.5 hour drive down to my buddies in Charleston. The drive was pretty boring but somewhat salvaged by a detour in the southern part of north carolina. I forced myself to take some detours throughout the trip because I quickly realized that interstates are a complete bore.

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Phuket, Thailand

I had been looking forward to Phuket since the very start of my trip planning. I had seen pictures of islands like Koh Phi Phi and just couldn’t wait to get there for all the great photography potential. I was also looking forward to doing some fishing (I’ve been fishing my whole life and love to do it in foreign places).

So I left Chiang Mai and took the short flight down to Phuket. The airport was about an hour from the hotel and I had arranged a pickup through the hotel (Le Meridian Phuket). It was around 230 by the time I got there so I just hit the beach for an hour or two and grabbed some dinner at the hotel buffet. I was in Phuket for 3 nights and had excursions planned for both days. I had to be up bright and early for a fishing trip the next day so I had an early night.

Koh Phi Phi Island near Phuket (more details below)koh phi phi phuket thailand boats in the waterThe pick up for fishing was around 8:15 and we picked up the rest of the guests and arrived at the pier about an hour later. Two my ‘dismay’ none of my fellow fisherman (and women) spoke english. Instead I had been teamed up with 8 burley russians. I had been in touch with the company prior to the trip and was pretty clear that I was hoping for some english speaking guests and also a good day of catching BIG fish. While the trip was fun, neither of these things happened. I wanted to catch big marlin and tunas and instead we caught little 3-5lb blue fin tunas. (more…)


Lady Boys, Elephants, Muy Thai and more

Thailand continues to get better. My next stop on my trek was Chiang Mai, which is south of Chiang Rai but still north of Bangkok. I had my friend Elyse from Chiang Rai set me up with a friend of hers in Chiang Mai which ended up being a really great connection. 

I took a 3 hour taxi ride from the hotel in CR down to my hotel in CM. I had a few other options but this seemed best. Considering all the gear that I had with me, this felt like the best bet. A bus would have cost me $5-$10 and the taxi ended up costing me about $85. It was a pleasant ride, with water provided and the ability to stop when I needed to. 

I arrived to my hotel around 7pm and got checked in. I was hoping for a better experience than I had up in CR and seeing as it was the same hotel brand, I was a bit nervous. I quickly realized that the staff here spoke much better English and they seemed to understand some of the more “complex” questions that I had. I was able to convince them to get me free Internet (the fact that hotels (especially expensive) ones still charge for Internet is a joke) and get an Ethernet cable sent to my room as well. 

street art in chiang mai thailand

A front desk agent took me to my room and showed me around a bit. It was nice, well laid out had a nice big bathroom and that same comfy bed and pillows I had in CR. The view from my room faced the mountains outside the city. The hotel food options were the same as in CR so I was really motivated to get out of the hotel. We were more centrally located this time so I figured it wouldn’t be as difficult. The hotel is about 20 minutes by foot to either the south gate or west gate. The old city is surrounded by a moat with “gates” on all 4 sides. The hotel is also locate literally one minute from the very famous night bazaar (more on this later). There were plenty of restaurants to go to during the day and plenty of street food stalls to try at night when the markets were going.  (more…)


Chiang Rai… Now HERE is Asia….

So I cancelled my plan of going to Bangkok because of the protests that are going on there currently. I decided instead to head to Chiang Rai. It came highly recommended by several friends and I had a friend of the family living there (teaching abroad) so it seemed like a good option. It turns out it was!

My friend Elyse is teaching in Mae Chan (?) and her friend Katelyn is teaching in Chiang Rai city center. They also had a few friends from their program (who are teaching south of bangkok) come up for the weekend. It was great to meet everyone and catch a glimpse of what these youngster are doing in there lives (early twenties). I wish I had the balls or the foresight to do this when I was there age. It seems incredible. They work during the week and travel around Thailand a lot on weekends. They have plans to go to Phuket and Malaysia for new years and once they are done with their 6months-1year of teaching they are going to continue to travel. It just seems like an awesome way to travel through Asia on the cheap and being able to take your time while doing it. Super jealous!

So, I arrived in Chiang Rai after a travel day from Singapore to Bangkok to Chiang Rai. I got to the airport here around 6pm. I had to buy a taxi ticket in the airport and unfortunately all the sim card stands were closed. So I was hoping for the best that my driver knew where he was going and that he wouldn’t veer off course. The taxi cost me about 200 Bhat (1USD=30bhat).. Everything in Thailand is SUPER CHEAP!!! (more on that later). I had forgotten what the exchange rate was when I went to the ATM at the airport so I had only taken out 1,000 Bhat (about $35) lol. I made another trip the next day after meeting my friends.

marionette horses at the night market in chiang rai

I have an entire post about the hotel so I won’t get into any detail about that here.

Getting around town is pretty easy. Chiang Rai “central” is pretty small and you could probably walk the whole thing in about 20 minutes. My hotel was a 10-15 minute cab ride (20 or so by tuk tuk). The people in town are all really friendly and they’ll often exchange a head bow or smile. The town is pretty touristy too with lots of white folk wondering around. There are backpackers and also lots of non locals that appear to be living here as well.

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Le Meridien, Chiang Rai

The ride to the hotel (Le Meridien, Chiang Rai) from the airport took about 15 minutes. The lobby was very welcoming and smelt nice. I was able to get checked in without TOO much trouble with the fact that no one spoke decent english. I chalked it up to the fact that I was in Thailand and I had prepared myself for a lack of communication. However, I was not prepared for how bad it was at the hotel. This is supposed to be a five star resort here in Thailand and it is a Starwoods property… I was very disappointed. I’m going to go on a bit of a rant so I apologize in advance.

I had several issues the first 24hours in the hotel and they were all made considerable worse by the fact that I couldn’t voice my issues to anyone in the staff and get any kind of feedback or support. After spending more than an hour on the phone with Starwoods my second night at the hotel, they told me the day manager would be in at 8am and he has a note to call me. I had a very nice conversation with Stephen, who is australian, and speaks perfect english. I really needed that and we were able to get a few things resolved.  (more…)


First stop in “Asia”, Singapore

So my visit to singapore was short lived. I was only in town for a few days. I was excited to visit Asia for the first time and seeing as my friend just moved here a few months ago, I figured this was a good place to start. He works in the film industry in a managerial role for a visual effects studio.

I came into singapore with really no idea of what to expect. I had seen some pictures but really have spent more time focused on other parts of the trip like Europe and Thailand. So, with no expectations I arrived in Sinagpore around 5pm, picked up some sim cards for my cell phone and mifi and headed to my buddies place. It was about 25-30 minutes from the airport and the cab cost around 35 singapore dollars (.80 USD = 1 Singapore Dollar). I was pleasantly surprised by how many people in my initial interactions spoke pretty good english. It turns out that english is the official language in Singapore.

girl in broken tooth buddha temple in singapore

I immediately noticed that Singapore looked a lot like a western city. Big buildings, lots of familiar car brands, etc. The skyline is beautiful for sure and the new installations of the Marina Bay Sands and the Art and Science Center and the Gardens by the Bay are really nice standouts against an already well developed skyline. The city just looks very modern. (more…)


Paris Part 2

The rest of paris beyond (part 1) was fun and interesting. I hit the Louvre and the Eifel tower (obviously). I also hit Arc de Triumph. All 3 were interesting locations and I think i got some decent photos. It was raining a bit each day which made the photo taking a bit of a chore. Constantly wiping the lens off and making sure the camera isn’t getting too wet is just part of the job.

Beyond the tourist sites, I was able to get together with two friends of friends that took me out for drinks and dinner (separately). I met the first women, Doro (a friend of my brother in law), over by my hotel for a couple drinks at a local bar. I met up with one of Patrick’s nephews, Pierre-Marie, at Inaro (38 Rue René Boulanger) for a drink and some apps and then over to Le Verre Volé (67 Rue de Lancry) for dinner.

The food, drinks and company were excellent all around. It was a real pleasure meeting people who are so friendly and willing to show a visited hospitality and a genuinely good time. Thanks Doro and Pierre!!

Below, I’ve included photos from around the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. I hope you enjoy!

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Finnair – Paris-Helsinki-Singapore

Well, that was a long ass flight… The flight from Helsinki to Singapore was about 11 hours. Thank god for sleeping pills.

I was able to get to the airport in paris a bit early and convince the nice lady behind the counter to set me up with some bulkhead seating on both flights. I knew my head would probably explode if I had someone’s seat back in my lap for 11 hours, so bulkhead was key. The flight from paris to singapore was uneventful. The finnair crew is very friendly, the seats are relatively comfortable and I got some booze and kicked back.

paris-finnair-flight-view-from-wing

The flight from Helsinki to Singapore was good. I had a nice guy from Sweden sitting next to me. We chatted for about an hour after take off and we both knew we wanted to get some sleep (the flight left helsinki around 11:55pm local time). I knew I would be fighting some jetlag if I didn’t get some sleep but also knew my sleep schedule would be screwed regardless. The flight landed around 5:30pm local singapore time which is 6 hours ahead of helsinki time. Traveling through all these time zones definitely takes its toll.

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Paris Part 1

So there I was in Paris. Fresh off my visit with my great friends in Bordeaux, I was looking forward to the city of lights. I’d heard great things and was also getting more excited to wrap up my European part of the trip. I was also extremely excited to get to stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome. This is a super high class hotel that I was staying at for free (rooms start at around $1,000/night) because of a signup/spending bonus on my Hyatt card from Chase (2 free nights at any hyatt in the world after reaching the required spend)

Anyway, I’ve detailed my stay at the Vendome in THIS POST so I won’t describe the stay in this one.

After landing at ORY airport, south of Paris, I headed to the metro/shuttle that would take me right into the heart of town. I was advise prior to arrival that taxi’s from the airport can run as much as 60-70 euros (almost $100) so I figured I’d find another option. The orlyval (think thats what it’s called) runs a shuttle from the airport to a local metro stop. Then, switch to the metro and get off about a 10 minute walk from my friends place. Easy as pie.

street musicians in paris along the river seine

I met with friends and we toured around town a bit. We picked up some rabbit to cook at home and other then the weather being a bit crappy, it was a nice ‘welcome’ to the city. We got into the subway and on a bus so it helped me get acclimated for the rest of the trip.

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Park Hyatt Paris Vendome

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome rooms are beautiful. I was able to get upgraded because of my hyatt status and have a king bed overlooking the Rue de la Paix.

The customer service here is great. I’ve been emailing with the concierge for about 3 weeks, figuring out rooming options, upgrade availability and even getting a list of places close by that might have some sort of thanksgiving menu for the holiday.

I just received a call from Melanie, one of the concierge women who I’ve been emailing with. She was not here when I checked in, but called me to make sure everything is ok. Thats true service!

The room is gorgeous. They have everything you need. Plenty of outlets, a big TV, really comfy bed, an actual ethernet cable to connect your laptop. They have a jbl iphone speaker with great sound.

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Beautiful Bordeaux, Part 2

Monday was a big day for us. We got up bright and early and got ready to head out for our Chateau Tour of the Pauillac and Margaux wine regions of southwest France. Remember Patrick’s sister, Kiki, from my previous Bordeaux post? Well she was a wine exporter for 25+ years and got us hooked up with a few really top classification chateaus for the day. [note: there was a classification [wiki] of the wineries in France in 1855 or something]. We visited a few of the top classes and had a tasting at a number 2 and number 5 class.] This was a very special treat and we had a kind of ‘all-access’ pass to some of these places. It was great!

One of the really interesting things about the chateaus in Bordeaux and the classification into the different tiers is that on one side of the road you can have a First Classification wine and right on the other side (like a car lengths apart) you can have a chateau that isn’t ranked at all. I won’t get too technical about it, but apparently its all about the “terrior” or ground that the vines grow in. The ideal is clay and rock and sometimes, just on the other side of the street the ground can be more grass. It’s fascinating (at least to me)… that’s all for the wine mumbo jumbo… hopefully you’re not bored yet. I’ve included some photos of the interiors/exteriors of the different chateaus with my best attempt at remembering which is which.

Wine glasses at Lynch-Bages Chateau in Francewine tasting at lynch-bages chateau in pauillac france

Note about wine tasting: Technically you’re supposed to take a sip and spit after you’ve taken in the flavor and what not…. I did NOT spit. This was some of the best wine I will probably ever drink. Spit! no way… in fact, I’ll take seconds!

After we were done wine tasting for the day (which was some of the best wine ever) we went to visit a really special place that Patrick thought I would appreciate… he was right. (more…)


Beautiful Bordeaux

This was my second trip to Bordeaux and it did NOT disappoint. I will preface this post by saying I had some really really awesome hosts that showed me around and treated me completely like family. Your experience may be different because of this but I think you would still enjoy a trip here.  The last time I was in Bordeaux I was just discovering this story about my grandfather and the french resistance people who saved his life. It was a very emotional, but short, trip. I was so engulfed in the discovery process that I felt I needed to come back to really enjoy my visit in a more relaxed fashion. So that’s what I did. My hosts, Patrick and Claudine (and Patrick’s sister Kiki) rolled out the red carpet for sure.

[Photo Preview] The exterior of the Chateau in Cadillac, France

The Exterior of the cadillac chateau

I picked up my Enterprise rental car after arriving from Barcelona via Vueling airlines and headed over to Patrick and Clo’s place in Floirac about 25 minutes from the airport and just east of the river that runs through Bordeaux. They have a beautiful home with a large yard and garden, big trees and a nice little guest house (for me :) ). Claudine had lunched prepared (she is a great chef) and after we went to pick up a sim card for my phone and mifi (an adventure all its own). The rest of the day was fairly uneventful.

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Uneventful Barcelona…

Perhaps I was overhyped for this leg of the trip. I was looking forward to Barcelona because most of my friends and people I’ve met so far have told me that Barcelona is great and I would really enjoy it. Perhaps is was the poor weather for the first 36 hours of my visit. Or perhaps it was the fact that my airbnb on my first night was shit and both of my hosts had the flu. Perhaps is was the fact that it was considerably more expensive then the rest of spain which I felt was all very reasonably priced.

Whatever the reason, I did not really enjoy my time in Barcelona. I found that while the Gaudi buildings were interesting and nice to look at, they were quite expensive and even the park was more than $10 for entrance… I mean its a park, come on guys…. (more info HERE)

main ceiling in la segrada familia in barcelona. a gaudi building

Some good things:

The metro was super easy to use and I was able to figure out which lines to take and where to enter etc pretty quickly.

My second airbnb was excellent. I was with a very nice couple around 30-35 years old. The girl spoke english while the guy did not. He was a chef and I don’t think she worked much (beyond managing the airbnb room and guests. I was able to have a couple of really nice and interesting conversations with her and learned that they will be flying to Mexico in january to prospect on buying some land there. The plan is to build a green home and bungalows and rent them. She was really sweet and made me feel very much at home even leaving breakfast for me each morning.

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