Friday, December 6, 2019

Hello Sevilla!

It’s coldish in Freiburg and Frankfurt, 8 - 10 degrees so it’s time to go to Sevilla which is about double that. 

Lufthansa's cabin crew strike on November 7 and 8 took me for a loop that I narrowly avoided, I flew Nov 12, damn that’s close! Barman at the hotel recognizes me after 2 years! The next morning Lexi is a pill and hides under the bed just out of reach until she showed a paw, I grabbed it and hauled her out, very hissing, angry cat! I take the 6:45 shuttle and go to check in, business class, no lines. Go to security, no lines, flying business class is very much worth it this trip, the day is improving. I went really early to have time in the reputed long security lines for people rebooking flights from the strike. 

Arrived at the apartment and I have hot water, the fridge is on and the place is clean all thanks to Pepe and Rocio. No internet though which is a bummer and caused, we found out, by an outside problem. Wednesday I do a large shop for home delivery and have Ryan, Angela, Pepe and Rocio over for some wine and nibbles. 

Sunday, for my welcome back lunch party, Liz, Ivan, Pepe, Ivan, Ryan and Angela arrive. I serve minced beef and pork spiced stuffed peppers with three cheeses on top, of fresh grated raclette, parmesan and old cheddar; mashed potatoes; a dip of yoghurt and mayonnaise with dill and a bit of powdered garlic; tomatoes and cucumbers; bread and butter. Red wine flowed with sparkling water and Pepe and Ivan enjoyed a bit of Whit’s scotch.
Photo from Pepe. Around the table: Pepe, Ivan Liz, Angela, Ryan and me.
Ivan drove me to the warehouse where we bought our kitchen supplies from when moving into the flat. It's a restaurant supply place, I went with the purpose of buying more dishes and cutlery so I can host more than six people without using plastic dishes. 
Photo from Ivan
This means more washing up for me, by hand, but better for the environment. The warehouse is large but skilled owner, Ivan’s friend, knows it well and we pick up what's needed. Nothing matches over well, change in patterns for the cutlery, change in size and patterns for the dishes but now I can host about 12 people. 

It rained here for a few days and Sevilla people do not do well with rain, not used to it. Friday afternoon my power went off for 10 minutes, thankfully only that long. Traffic was very heavy going to and from the warehouse mentioned above and Ivan said that was usual. I would have trouble driving here, 3 or 4 lanes and they seem to merge in weird ways to me. They have even installed a u-turn lane, far right to left, onto another street with traffic lights, most bizarre thing I’ve seen in any city but it works. 

Went with Ryan and Angela to Parceria for breakfast on Sunday. Sundays are really busy in the small cafe but we got fed the usual lovely food, mine included avocado.
Meet Ottie, Ryan and Angela dog sit her once in a while.
I ordered an area rug from the U.S. on Etsy and it got delivered at 7:00 pm on a Monday. I had to pay taxes on it and did not have the correct change and the driver didn’t either so it was a trek to the post office and half hour wait to get my hands on it. With Christmas coming up the post office was busy but they do have a numbering system so that helps a bit.
Real flower shop adjacent to the next pictured church
Another church I walk by frequently, this time I went in, service being held, the alter was almost completely gold!
One day I go looking at an area behind the Setas, Metropol Parasol, you’ve read about before, that large wooden wafer structure in the middle of the city. My mission was a fake flower shop that sells particularly good silk flowers in quantity. Found a lovely red one but it was part of a bouquet and the place was busy so moved on. Got a haircut from a shop I’d admired last year, bought a cute pair of slippers, went to the fresh food market, bought fresh cut ham, not Jamon Iberico but tasty. Found a silk dying shop that will have classes in January, proprietor was very friendly and that might be fun. I cannot count how many scarves I have had over the years, seems to be a bit of my thing. Back to the flower shop to ask about that red flower and they have singles for sale, buy one. Went to a small shop that has floor to ceiling wood cabinets holding many leather treasures and bought a colourful glasses case to replace the boring black one beside my bed. On to the Oriental market that specializes in oriental foods for rice noodles because I’d watched a video about how to make soup. It was a day that felt accomplished and different than the usual shopping experience. 

Went past the Museo to the local shops where they recognize me, the Pharmacy, the fruit and veggie market, lotto and cigarette shop and the meat shop. Stopped in at the antique and framing shop to visit Natasha and husband Juan Carlos. We bought three of Natasha’s paintings, the large one commissioned from her and framed all the art we bought from the Museo Sunday market. Went to the coffee roaster owned by Alberto as he was roasting.  
It was good to see everyone again and they all welcomed me warmly.

I use an extra pillow on the large dining room chairs, it’s naked and looks quite ugly so decided to have Rocio sew a cover for it. Her favourite store is in the pedestrian shopping district so I went there. Wow, I’ve never seen so many polka dots in my life! They have a large selection of flamenco dress fabric and, of course, that includes polka dots. Didn’t find anything for me though. Rocio brought fabric she had sewn and we fixed up the pillows. 

Sunday art market and it’s a chilly day, went to visit with Liz. She introduced me to an English lady named Jill, her and her husband live here in the winter and in France in the summer. She brought mulled wine in a teapot and cake for the small group of painters that exhibit together. It was yummy and warmed us up. 

As you can probably tell, I am working on the decor in the apartment. Have decorated for Christmas now and bought new pillows for the couch Lexi seems to appreciate.
Thanks Mom! Purrfect fit.
All for now, Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Day trip into the Kaiserstuhl

Christoph and I took a mini trip in a GrĂ¼ne Flotte car. We haven’t used the service in probably two years while Christoph had his car but the service is still available and good to use. First to Breisach for Italian lunch, many German gasthaus are closed for lunch in the winter. It was a Tuesday and really quite busy but we got a table. Here is the website (neutor means new gate) Portion size was huge, even Christoph couldn’t finish his. The meal was very tasty and well presented in this upmarket restaurant.

We drove through the countryside to Landerer winery in Vogtsburg-Oberrotweil, (website is under construction) which you’ve read about here almost every year. Trees have kept their fall colours and we had a semi-sunny day for the half hour drive, so it was very pleasant. These pictures are of the displays around the tasting room.

There were two couples in the tasting room so we didn’t linger, I bought two cases, one Sauvignon Blanc and Grauburgunder of six bottles each. 
The picture behind the bird house is of the daughter. The son is on the winery brochure.
Always good to visit this well run and friendly family winery! Bit of a push to get the car back to Rieselfeld on time but we made it. 

Lexi and I are going to Sevilla next week.

Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello to all, but for my Canadian friends and family, Happy Thanksgiving! 

I walked around the neighbourhood to take pictures on a fabulously warm and sunny Sunday before the Day. Here are a couple of them.
Looks surreal to me, more like a painting, but the plant stretched all around the building to the top of the column.
Pathway through Rieselfeld.
The living room rug under the coffee table was looking quite sad, especially with the new couch set.

I took a taxi (transit would have taken forever) out to a major house furnishings department store and looked for a new one there, nothing, so I walked next door to the Ikea, nothing there either. Pricing at Ikea was radically cheaper than the other store, more so I thought than accounting for quality difference. Taxi cost me 40 Euros return, wasted trip except meeting a driver I had had a couple of times on my trips to the hospital for Bruce, interesting chap who loves to learn languages.

I didn't know where else to look for a rug but did remember buying our lighting for Sevilla on Etsy so looked there. Eureka! Found one! Very pleased with it.
Lexi likes it! Handwoven from Turkey.
Another successful purchase from Etsy and for delivery they use DPD which has an excellent tracking system giving you a half an hour window for delivery time.

In the fall we get fabulous sunsets here, actually sunrises too, but they are not quite as dramatic. 
Happy Thanksgiving! 

Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat.

Monday, September 30, 2019

A Food Tour and Au Revoir Dijon!

Here are the last few random pictures of Dijon with my thoughts about the food tour and other sights I visited.

Just sittin' in the square jammin' together. Music was good!
Playing ping pong on the park tables.
Remember the owl symbol, if you touch the owl with your right hand (instead of your left) you will be facing this little dragon and he will snatch your wishes away according to legend.

To explain the above link, Karen and Rich McCann live in Sevilla when they are not travelling, we met a few years ago. I missed seeing them in Dijon by a week. They took the same food tour, had the same guide I did. 

On my food tour I met up with our guide Philippe in front of the tourist office, we were two English speakers from Munich and two French from Belgium. Philippe walked us around a portion of Dijon providing a short history lesson on the wars, the Dukes of Burgundy and the architecture. 

On to the food, a true Dijon mustard tasting, twelve choices, at Edmond Fallot’s retail store, company established in 1840. They had a machine on site to explain it is made, mustard seeds and wine basically. Being the retail store there was no tour, as there is at the factory in Beaune. Apparently they are certified Burgundy, seeds and production are only from this area. Some other Dijon mustard companies source their seeds from Canada and while originating in Dijon, were bought out by Unilever (I suspect he was talking about Maille).

Stopped at a Craft Beer and food restaurant called Les Moulins Bleus for a Kir, cassis and white wine, Philippe also brought us a cheese bun made from comte cheese, local favourite. Philippe had that green, seriously grass green, drink I’ve wondered about, spearmint syrup and water, yuck in my opinion but since I haven’t tried it… Across the street he recommended the restaurant and wine bar Dr Wine. A friend and him meet when he says to the friend “you aren’t looking well, better go to the Dr.” 

The Les Halles market, as you know I am familiar with but had never had a tour of before so it was great to have many of the products explained. 

All are local, sold by the farmers who grow them including the meat where the butcher chooses the animal personally to butcher. 
Cheese gets more expensive the longer it is aged. 
Chickens are sold entire to show the freshness, Bresse breed considered the best has black feet. We had lunch in the market at the wine bar, we each had a tray of cured meat, ham, cheese, grapes, bread, butter (which is wonderful here) and wine. 
The market wine bar for lunch, very popular for locals to get a drink after doing the shopping.
Then it was time for the gingerbread which apparently is not sweet here, another recipe handed down for generations. Philippe bought us each a nonnette which is ginger bread sort of muffin with a jam filling, this one was orange, good but sweet for me. It was an interesting tour, knowledgeable guide and the food was good. 
Statue is of a grape stomper for wine, the nude was controversial, he now wears a grape leaf. 
The half timbered house behind this statue is one of many in Dijon, originally occupied by trades people. The timbers are supported on the ground floor by mason columns. They built high using timber, lighter material, to avoid paying more taxes on the ground square footage.
There are three children on top of the fountain staring with delight down at the three frogs at the rim.
Arc de Triomphe, Place Darcy, Dijon version, it used to be part of the fortified walls of the city.
My visit to the Museum of Burgundian Life was free as many museums are here, housed in what was the Bernardine Monastery. Here is that website again so you can look up the next museums mentioned. This one was dark and stuffy with glassed in mannequins of people dressed in period clothing with things around them describing what they did in a day. Scenes of a marriage, weaving, sewing, cooking, sleeping etc. Honestly I did not enjoy it much, perhaps the darkness was to save the clothing and furniture from fading because a lot of the items looked original to me. Anyway it took me to a neighbourhood I hadn’t visited before and dropped me next to the Theatre for a nice seafood salad lunch at Les Friands Disent.
Polar bear sculpture in the park, can't remember the history but I liked it.
I go to the market often as mentioned, pick up what I need (the Thai shop I get salad from is called Shop Odebert) and then sit at a cafe called Comptoir des Colonies for a Perrier water to watch people, dogs, and kids going by. The water costs 3.50 Euro which is ridiculous but I figure it’s a cheap hour’s entertainment for me. I’m not the only one who frequents this place, there are at least three other people I see there regularly. A couple who sit and do puzzles, he smokes a pipe and a fellow who seems to bring all of his electronics with him for his phone. This cafe has a tea and coffee shop at one end with multiple canisters of each which smell really nice. 
This is another, but far richer, trades person's house, very ornate! You can view many of the houses on the streets and read about their histories on the plaques beside them (in French and English)
I finally went into the old church at the end of this street. It’s named St. Michael’s and is as ornate as many of the other ones I saw with Christoph. As I was leaving the choir was practicing beautiful music. This is where the bell tones come from that I hear from the apartment daily, reminds me of our time in Heidelberg. Coming out I passed the Rude Museum so stopped in and wow! The size and the intricacy of the sculptures was amazing. What artistry to be able to build on that scale and to last the hundreds of years they have. 

I finally clued in, and realized why churches are so important aside from the religious point of view. They outline the entire history of the area from when they were built. They are keepers of the events which remember who, when and what has happened.

I regret lost opportunity with Christoph’s week of touring me around. I could have learned more French from him, and I could have paid more attention to his expert history lessons instead of thinking to myself, another church.  

Friday I go to the market and pick up my favourite Thai food, Bo Bam, rice noodle salad and gyoza. Walk around town for a bit and then lunch at “Start In” a restaurant that had been closed for holidays. The proprietor is nice, drives and races motorcycles, and the food excellent, what they call a club sandwich was a layer of perfectly cooked prawns and another of avocado with cream cheese, balsamic vinegar, with potato chips on the side all for 10 Euros. 

My faux pas or dumb mistake was I hadn’t realized (maybe forgot) kitchens mainly close at 2 pm for lunch service in France. Know about Germany but it hadn’t twigged on me until today, mid-August that they do here too. Damn, not smart on my part for sure. 

Market day, Thai salad, this woman is recognizing me now. Lunch of salmon tartare which is something I don’t often have but it was good, with avocado. There are mini buses that circle the old city for free so I took one and saw a bit more of the outer rim of the city. 

I went to the Museum Magnin, to view a collection of art works from the 16th - 19th centuries.  Haha, what I liked about it best was the furniture, beautifully ornate chairs, sideboards and window coverings. 

Noticed parking closures for August 30 to 31st along the streets and wondered. It’s the 17th annual free concert called "lalalib" in two squares around the corner from me. It gathers large crowds so I will probably not go but life around my area will be “interesting” for those two days. I talked to a restaurant owner in the Theatre square which is closest to me and he said he was afraid about the crowds coming, I don’t blame him. He has to remain open but he said there is a lot of drinking and the crowd is mostly young. It is billed as the last fling before school starts. What happened? Nothing reported, I could hear the music but it wasn’t a bother. I read they had 17,000 participants, down from 20,000 last year.

I will miss Dijon, now know it well enough to take shortcuts to where I am going usually to the wonderful indoor/outdoor food market. The inner city is pedestrian only and it is very comfortable and interesting to walk around.
In the driveway leading to the flat I rented.
Au Revoir Dijon! 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Seven, Dijon

Les Halles market and mural beside it.
Friday and we wanted an easy day before Christoph’s departure tomorrow. Walked around the huge Musee des Beaux-Arts, Museum of Arts which is close by to the flat I’m in. My landlord said it would take many visits to see the entire thing and we discovered that today by only getting one floor done, three more to go, free entry so that will be handy and inexpensive. This links to most of the museums in Dijon, I'll let you know about a couple of others in another post. Then we walked to Les Halles, the large market, food inside, clothing outside around it. We had boeuf bourguignon (beef stew, a French traditional dish) and a glass of wine each since Christoph wasn’t driving, at Brasserie Des Halles next to the market. 
These musicians played next door to our lunch spot, and they were good!
The food was tasty but the beef could have been more tender in my opinion. We parted ways until the next day. We returned the car early in the morning (after getting a bit lost getting to the rental place) and Christoph traveled through Freiburg to Paris to start eight weeks of touring. 

We both agreed that this week we have seen a lot, travelled quite far, but both have been very relaxed about the whole thing and enjoyed it. It has been a few years since I have actually "vacationed as a tourist", seeing famous sights so this was a treat especially with the knowledgeable guidance of Christoph and the use of a car.

The rest of my time in Dijon I took a food tour and toured myself around, there will be at least one more post with some sights of the city. Stay tuned!

Cheers, Bev

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Six, Beaune and Fixin

Thursday and we drive to Beaune stopping in Nuits-St-Georges for a coffee for Christoph.  It’s a pretty village along the wine road, but bigger than most.
Found this little butterfly on the way, it's on a city grate.
Loved this statue.

On to Beaune and lunch is first on order, quiche and salad, decent but not wonderful. We went to the Hotel-Dieu des Hospices Civils de Beaune with the multi-coloured tiles on the roofs and did the self guided tour with tape for more explanation. Here is a link with a better picture and more information
The roof tiles are typical of this region, but usually in less quantity.
A nun model praying for one of her patients, note the instruments in the foreground.
It was hospital for both rich and poor, separated into wards, you can read about it here The site is well maintained, beautifully outlaid with re-enactment of the rooms uses. 
Part of the kitchen which was large.
It was under a bit of construction at one end. The audio tape was well done explaining all the rooms and history behind them. A person could spend anywhere from an hour to three on site. We spent about an hour because we had other things to do that day.

Then to the Edmond Fallot Mustard Mill, there is an hour or so guided tour through the mill to show how the mustard is made. Third generation family owned, I bought the traditional mustard called Moutarde de Bourgogne which is sold everywhere in this region but I don’t think I’ve had this brand before, mostly available in stores is the Maille brand, also from this area. Read more about the two brands on my food tour post, coming up.
Original delivery truck or facsimile of it.
We had made an appointment for a wine tour at Clos St Louis in Fixin, where we had been at the beginning of the week so didn’t have time for the Fallot tour. A family owned winery operated by wife Virginie, husband Philippe and daughter Martine Bernard, who hosted us the first time and will take over the winery when her father retires. Looking at him, and the tour he gave us, retirement won’t be any time soon. He explained the typical farmer’s woes, weather, finding pickers, etc, all of which I could relate to having been raised on a farm. 
In the cask, all carefully labeled with Philippe's special coding.
In the bottle, not capped or labeled, they do that closer to sale, capped and labels are taxable, naked bottles are not until they are readied for sale.
The vintners are all independents in this region, they have their own equipment, some of which is only used at harvest time. There is no cooperative organization as there is in some wine producing areas to share equipment. Philippe explained that everyone would need the equipment at the same time which is the major reason they have their own. Another good visit and we saw the entire inside operation this time.

Travelling around the countryside here, if you take the fast highways there are tolls calculated on the kilometres between getting on and off, not a huge amount for a tourist but would add up for a frequent traveller. Of course, then I wonder if truckers could buy a monthly pass, didn't find out.

Cheers, Bev

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Dijon, France - Part Five, Flavigny and Semur-en-Auxois

Wednesday Jul 17: Heading off to a couple of monasteries and more churches, Sofia took us over one lane country roads, through rolling hills and into valleys for the first hour. She’s steered us wrong before (one way streets in the city) but usually is accurate outside the city, we wondered… We came out in the end to exactly our destination and it was a very interesting drive pretty with sunflowers and lots of Charolais cattle. 

Our destination was Flavigny-Sur-Ozerain which is where the movie Chocolat was filmed. What was more interesting was a an aniseed factory producing bonbons, and other products from aniseed in the village. Factory tours, count me in, this one was rather short but interesting despite it’s length. The company has been owned by three generations and is called les Anis de Flavigny “un bien bon bonbon”. If you know me, you know I don’t eat sweets very much but these are not so sweet. The tasting area was great with large, stemmed glasses with each flavoured product available. Before going on the tour we all were handed out folded hair nets as compulsory to wear. 
We all looked a bit silly, lots of giggling going on.
On the tour we went upstairs to see the process of tumbling the sugar coated aniseed and then downstairs for a glimpse into the factory where it is packaged. We walked the village after and found the site of the chocolate shop and where the Mayor lived from the movie. Charming village but hardly anyone seems to actually live there. Lamb for lunch was home cooked and a treat, at La Grange in the village.

Next on to Abbaye de Fontenay, close to Montbard, which is famous for it’s age, 1118, austerity, and UNESCO status. At it’s height approximately 300 monks lived there in dorms on straw beds. Christoph said it would have been crowded and likely rather smelly. Sprawling property with many buildings and really austere is the word here but beautiful in it’s own way. 
Water wheel used for the former paper mill on site
Fountain in the garden.
The grounds are large and manicured containing herb plants and a fountain that waters the garden.

Christoph wanted to show me the village of Semur-en-Auxois so we stopped by there for a coffee for him before returning to Dijon. He needs his afternoon coffee especially while touring and driving. The village was charming, church not in as good a shape as we’ve seen others. 
In a renovated church this wouldn't happen, there was also netting inside over the pews to keep out the bird droppings.
In Dijon I’m living on Rue Buffon, as we sat in the cafe in Semur-en-Auxois I saw we were on Rue Buffon also. Buffon was a fellow at the head of mining in the area so his name is everywhere in this region.

Another great road trip with thanks to Christoph!

Cheers, Bev and Lexi who doesn't go on day trips, she'd prefer to sleep.