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Ahh... Deutschland!

Good Friends, Good Food - Well worth the hassle to get there!

Well it may have been a hassle to get there but it certainly was worth it in the long run. Jurgen and his family have visited us in the States several times and we meant to get over to see them sooner but of course, Covid got in the way. But this time we made it, albeit after a bit or trouble but that's behind us and as you'll see it was great to get together again.

Jurgen picked the perfect location for us to stay at. Alongside a quiet river, it was an old hunting lodge and very well maintained with beautiful gardens and a GREAT German breakfast that Jeff so loves.

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We took a quick bike ride through a nice nature preserve, spent the evening tasting some refreshing gin and tonics at his friend's home. Very interesting - made with great tasting tonics in a variety of flavors. The next day we took a tour through Muenster - the bike capital of Germany!
With amazing churches, cobblestone streets and AGAIN - Great food. We ate outdoors at Kleiner Kiepenkerl and had some authentic Rouladen. And of course a good German Beer!

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Jeff and Jurgen made some very good tasting bread that we had for lunch and then as a team effort we made a splendid dinner of filets with fresh asparagus. Delicious!!

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Our trip was shortened due to the problems with flights before our arrival but we made the most of our time together and will try to catch up with them on another cruise or ski trip. Hopefully sooner rather than later! So rather than risk the flight fiasco again we took the very efficient train back to Frankfurt from Muenster to catch our flight back to the USA.

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Posted by Where2FromHere 17:03 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Arrivederci!

The other meaning of Fiasco ....


View Tuscany Tasting con mio Marito on Where2FromHere's travel map.

As they say all good things must come to an end and so it was with our Culinary hike through Tuscany. Today's word of the day was really a hand gesture. A pointed finger and the shake of a hand that means - No way, or Not gonna happen. It would be useful later on as you'll see. We boarded the bus that would take us to Florence and waved goodbye to three wonderful guides - Miguel Goodpasture, Lorenzo Toffano and Irene Fronteddu.

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The bus took us to Florence airport and that's where the real Fiasco began. I probably shouldn't bore you with all the details but sadly, if it could go wrong it did. Good thing travel isn't always like it was after we were dropped off or Jeff would never go anywhere with me again. Three days later we finally made it to our next destination - Germany. Here are the gruesome details.

  • We were too early to check our bags so we had to wait about three hours until we could check in
  • Once checked in we waited in the lounge for awhile and had a bite to eat
  • Shortly before the time to board our flight we went downstairs, only to find a mob scene of people waiting to board flights.
  • We opted to have a glass of wine while waiting but they were out of clean glasses so that took awhile. At the time I thought we'd miss our flight before having a chance to drink it - little did I know ...
  • We waited for about 2 hours and finally they were going to board the flight. Then the gate agent made the announcement that they could only take 67 people. Imagine the chaos as everyone swarmed to the door. We were first class so luckily we were able to board the bus that would take us to our plane. A few minutes later the police appeared at the gate because it was like a brawl with everyone fighting for one of the 67 seats. Then someone came to the bus and said they canceled the flight.
  • We waited on the bus and were eventually taken to the terminal to get our bags. We went upstairs once we retrieved them in order to ticket a new flight. There we found another mob scene with only one agent who quickly left to find her supervisor. I called the nearest Marriott and we took a cab at there at about 10PM Friday nite
  • We had a quick dinner before the kitchen closed. I was on online chat until 1AM trying to rebook our flight out of Florence to Frankfurt where we were supposed to leave from Saturday at 5PM to go to Muenster. Meanwhile we missed our pre-reserved stay at the Marriott in Frankfurt where we had been upgraded to a suite :(
  • I was cut off while on the chat so I fell asleep and woke at 4AM to try again. By 6 AM I was cut off again and still without a replacement flight. Then I got an email saying we were now rebooked on a flight out of Verona Italy to Munich (WHAT??? - we were two hundred miles from Verona and trying to go to Frankfurt not Munich). So we had a quick breakfast and made our way back to the airport.
  • Truly another mob scene as hundreds of people were attempting to get on a flight - with 3 agents working the desk. Fortunately because we were business class our line was significantly shorter. The agent found a flight, ticketed our bags, sent them off and then when she went to write the info for us found that the flight she was putting them on was already oversold. So she called them back and we were to go downstairs and retrieve them so we could book another flight.
  • There we waited in another line for an hour and a half while one person tried to find missing bags! Some people there had lost their bags on a flight from Barcelona three days earlier where the entire plane's cargo was lost! Finally, we got our bags and returned to check in AGAIN.
  • So this time we were actually ticketed ... BUT to get to Frankfurt we had to go from Florence Italy to Zurich Switzerland, and from Zurich to Venice Italy and from Venice to Frankfurt Germany. We would get there alright but we would miss our flight from Frankfurt to Muenster, Germany. And Jeff had to be on Stand-by for business class since they didn't have enough seats.
  • We were told to come back at 12:30 and get his ticket then. When we did we were told to come back at 1:30 - so we did. Finally, just before the flight was ready to board the agent was involving her supervisor in trying to get him a seat. FINALLY, we got the ticket - he'd have to sit in economy but at least we were both on the plane. They were already boarding after we raced to the gate. I was told "Because I was late, they wouldn't have a meal for me" Like I care?! All I want is a seat.
  • When I got onboard half the seats in business class were empty - Covid rules still apply so only every other seat was filled and I couldn't sit next to Jeff even though we sleep in the same bed at night. Crazy. When I asked for coffee I got it in a paper cup while the lady across the aisle got hers in a china cup - I guess that's cuz "I was late"?!?!? Oh, well.
  • After the three flights we finally made it to Frankfurt. Because we had missed our connecting flight to Muenster we were just going to take the train. It would be a 2 hour trip and would get us in by midnight Saturday. The train station is conveniently located at the airport so all looked as though it would work out. Nope, not going to happen! Time for that hand gesture .. Our bags never appeared on the carousel. Of course, they were lost and we stood in another line to file a claim.
  • So, I reserved a room at the Marriott - same one we were supposed to be at last night (but we were lucky to be upgraded). Took a shower and slept in our underwear. We'll catch a morning train.
  • With the little German that I know we were able to buy a train ticket - although finding the track where the train would be was another challenge. We did it though, just in time (finally something went right) and got to Muenster on Sunday, after two missed flights, two taxi fares, four hotel rooms paid for for only two nights - because we missed two, and three bags lost somewhere in Venice.
  • Oh, the Joy of Travel :)

Posted by Where2FromHere 13:40 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

What's an Italian Fiasco?

It's really not what you might think .. and today we learned all about the Italian wicker baskets!


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Day five of the Culinary Adventure in Tuscany. And the word of the day is "Fiasco". Now I know what I mean when I say Fiasco - in my mind a fiasco is a real mess of things. Well, that's true in Italy if its attached to the verb "fare" (to make). But today, Miguel taught us the other meaning of Fiasco. The straightforward meaning is "flask". So, if you're as old as we are, you'll recall the days when Chianti wine came in a bottle with a little wicker basket around the base of the bottle. We knew it as very cheap wine. But here's the rest of the story: The chianti wine makers had a round bottom to their bottles so in order to have them stand upright they packaged them in the wicker baskets. This also allowed them to put more bottles in a case by turning a few upside down and all would be protected from hitting the others by the wicker baskets. Sooner or later some crafty entrepreneurs in America, replaced the wine in these bottles with a cheap imitation. Hence, our thoughts that Chianti was always a rather cheap, not so delicious wine. In the states, everyone found these wicker baskets in virtually every Italian restaurant - made into chandeliers and on every red-checkered table cloth. Their marketing campaign made it such that pretty much every American has a vision of Chianti as being a cheap wine. But while here in the Chianti valley we were fortunate to learn otherwise!

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We learned today's hike is pretty much upward without any shade. ( 3.2 miles at an elevation gain of 518 ft. and then 5.2 miles with a gain of 720 feet - I don't think my Fitbit can handle that!) So, that decides it. With the inviting thermal ponds and the town left to explore we opted out. We enjoyed a great "European breakfast" in an outdoor restaurant with marvelous views, took a walk around town to check out the ancient ruins and the thermal baths and then headed down to the shaded lawn chairs with Kindle in hand. This time we weren't alone - our young friends Ian and Shanley from Colorado were our partners in crime. (Ian and Jeff are so simpatico - both fill the glass full of ice before adding the scotch) among other similarities.

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This time I waded into the thermal pools at the hotel with Fran, Ian and Shanley. It's usually not my thing, but as they say when in Rome - or in this case, Bagno Vignoni! It wasn't terribly hot but the surfaces were pretty slimy. All in all, still not my thing but maybe good for aching muscles.
Afterwards, we showered and got ready for the shuttle bus to take us to another agriturismo for a pasta making class.

In preparation for her upcoming Tuscany party back home, Fran got right in there - wielding the pasta noodles and the knife like a pro!

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Our lunch was - of course - pasta, salad, Italian bread and a great chocolate dessert. Perfect carbohydrate loading for the hike (although we choose not to hike to Pienza with temps now in the upper 90's).

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Off we went to Pienza. Little did we know when we booked the trip that we'd return there once again. However, we were on a mission to get a leather bound journaling book that we missed the 1st time before the store closed. And, wouldn't you know it - it was closed again. Oh well, we roamed the streets, spoke some Italian with the locals, found an interesting grocery and took a break in the shade.

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Hard to believe a week has gone by. TIme does fly when you're having fun. Tonight was our farewell dinner.

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Afterwards, we went dancing in the courtyard across the street. Met five Italian teens and had a really fun time with them. They took our photo with our cowboy hats. Too bad we didn't have our camera. It was a great time to speak more Italian, the music was fantastic and the dancing helped wear off the carbs!

Posted by Where2FromHere 12:28 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Enjoying Bagno Vignoni

Just like the pilgrims in antiquity


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You're absolutely right if you guessed that we returned to the hotel as opposed to finishing the hike in 90 degree weather after our very satisfying lunch. No Regrets! The hotel is one of the most beautiful we've ever stayed at - with multiple thermal pools and a view that just doesn't quit.

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We found a shady spot alongside the thermal pools and enjoyed two very refreshing gin and tonics. The service at this hotel were beyond compare and the flowers blooming everywhere were beautiful!

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We were on our own for dinner - and when we learned the Michelin restaurant we chose online was not within walking distance, Michele at the front desk made reservations for us at Osteria del Leone which did not disappoint. Our waitress was a lot of fun - She made Jeff look good with the wine choice. It was Orcia Sangiovese from the area. The liver pate was delicious. We both ordered the pasta dish but devoured it before the camera had a chance to take the photo!

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A great after-dinner drink in the bar at the hotel was all it took to finish off another great day in Tuscany!

Posted by Where2FromHere 18:49 Archived in Italy Tagged hotel posta marcucci Comments (0)

Journey into Southern Tuscany

Day four - Viaggiare con mio Marito


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Today we journey into Southern Tuscany to explore Val d'Orcia - the rich green valley along the Orcia river - with its Medieval castles, ancient villages, gorgeous farmhouses, isolated homesteads, roads lined with cypress trees, fabulous vineyards and olive groves as well as fields of grain being harvested.

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First stop is the Sant’ Antimo Abbey - one of the most beautiful architectural jewels in Romanesque style that is still standing today. Of course, we couldn't resist purchasing a few items from their shop which was filled with spices, candies, and other goodies.

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The route rap informs us that we'll be hiking (hopefully mostly in the shade :) 2.6 miles with a 460 foot elevation gain to Relais Mastrojanni,
Along the way we saw great views of the Abbey, a quaint little village, a family of grouse, a horse & buggy (Jeff tried to hire!), an ancient olive tree, vineyards (with roses - like the canary in an underground mine. an early warning of problems in the vineyard), a deserted old farmhouse, and never-ending beautiful vistas!

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Upon reaching our destination, Relais Mastrojanni, we were greeted with large carafes of fresh water - a truly welcome site - along with some shade. Then we learned all about the saffron growing in the area (and of course, we purchased some) and enjoyed a wonderful luncheon of risotto made with saffron and wine (Jeff REALLY enjoyed the wine haha) and a fabulous chocolate dessert. Ummm!

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Now, you have to guess ... did we continue the final leg of the hike or did with take the support van with Irene ("sharp cookie" guide/chauffer) to our hotel for the evening ?!?!?

Posted by Where2FromHere 16:08 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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