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A toast to La Cité du Vin

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“Every detail of the building, evokes wine’s soul and liquid nature: seamless roundness, intangible and sensual." Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, architects of La Cité du Vin.

La Cité du Vin (The City of Wine) is a journey through the world of wine from its earliest beginnings some 8,000 years ago to the modern period in a contemporary 3,000 m² exhibition space above the Garonne River in Bordeaux.

There are 19 thematic interactive displays exploring the cultivation of wine starting with a film that takes you on a world wine tour. On the terroir table, winemakers from 10 wine regions in the world talk about the development of their vineyards.  The gallery of civilizations expounds on the topic of divine wine, medical wine, celebratory wine and sustaining wine and how these have accompanied us through the ages. These are just a few of the highlights of an afternoon full of discoveries at La Cité du Vin. My personal favorite was the buffet of the five senses where I could get …

St. Paul de Vence

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St. Paul de Vence is a medieval village sitting prettily on a hill in the French Riviera. Famous artists have come to find inspiration in these well worn cobblestone streets with overhanging vines trailing down stone houses. The scent of oranges permeate the air as you navigate your way around the village tucked neatly within walls built in the 16th century on orders from Francis I after repeated attacks and occupation by the Spanish army under Charles V. 

I followed the route along the ramparts for breathtaking views of the valley and snow-capped Alps in the distance. Le Baou (rocky cliff) of Saint Jeannet rises 800 meters (2,624 ft.) above sea level and attracts mountain climbers. 

The Mediterranean Sea is visible from the west ramparts of St. Paul. Down the hill is a vineyard producing a variety of wine that was once tasted by Francis I when he visited the village. You can enjoy the wines of St. Paul too. Check this link for more info. https://www.saint-pauldevence.com/en/markets-win…

Romanity

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The ancient Romans were prolific builders. They certainly left their architectural imprints across France. The Maison Carrée (square house) in Nîmes is a fine example of an ancient Roman temple in the Vitruvian style. The temple was dedicated to the grandsons of Augustus according to the reconstructed inscription from 1758 which reads: "To Gaius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul; to Lucius Caesar, son of Augustus, Consul designate; to the princes of youth."
The Maison Carrée is on a raised podium with six Corinthian columns across its façade and a deep pronaos or porch. Twenty columns attached to the wall line the sides and back of the building. The Roman style ceiling is from a restoration done in the 19th century. There is only one windowless cella or cult room in the temple.  A 3D film about the founding of Nîmes is shown continuously throughout the day in the cella. 
The Arènes de Nîmes is an elliptical shaped Roman amphitheater from the second half of first century. It was …

The mountains are calling

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The Swiss Federal Railways makes it easy for visitors to travel anywhere in Switzerland with its vast and efficient coverage of the country. Even the remotest villages in the mountains can be accessed through a network of trains and cableways. So it was an easy decision to combine my trip to Lauterbrunnen with Wengen and it turned out to be a good decision.

It was warm and sunny in November when I captured this view of the Jungfrau (above).


Wengen sits at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain range, 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.) above sea level. It is a quiet, car-free village with less than a couple thousand residents. This count balloons to 10,000 or so during the ski season when the alpine village hosts the annual International Luberhorn Downhill Ski Race. Wengen is the gateway to the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe at 11,333 ft.


A cable car dangles above the valley on its way to Männlichen where spectacular views of the Eiger and Mönch await. The Eiger is famous for its treacherous North Face whi…

The Names of Zurich

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How much of Zurich can you see in an afternoon in late fall? The surprising answer is, a lot! I was in Zurich to catch a flight back to the U.S. and had a few hours to sightsee. After checking in at the hotel and reviewing the city map the receptionist gave me, I hurried down to Bahnhofstrasse and followed the busy shopping street towards Lake Zurich. My first stop was at Augustinergasse, a cobblestone street with overhanging balconies. It is in the Alstadt or Old Town which is the historical center of the city. Some of the most important landmarks like the Fraumünster, the Grossmünster, Peterkirche and the guild houses are found in the Alstadt. 

The stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in the Fraumünster was at the top of my "must see" list. As luck would have it, a rehearsal for a music concert was in progress during my visit so I lingered and enjoyed the performances of two gifted singers while studying the works of Chagall and Giacometti. An added bonus was the crypt whe…

The Rocky Wall of Lauterbrunnen

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Staubbach Falls Surrounded by towering rock faces and snow capped mountain peaks, Lauterbrunnen has one of the most dramatic settings in the Bernese Oberland. Free falling Staubbach Waterfall rushes down nearly 300 meters off the face of the cliff to the valley below. It seems to disappear behind a group of chalets on main street leaving a trail of wet spray. Staubbach is only one of 72 other waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen.  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe traveled to Lauterbrunnen in 1779 and was impressed by what he saw, enough to write a poem ¨Spirit Song over the Waters¨. Here´s an excerpt from the poem:
“Down from the lofty
Rocky wall
Streams the bright flood,
Then spreadeth gently
In cloudy billows
O'er the smooth rock...”  

Lauterbrunnen Valley To get a good view of the valley, take the train to Wengen, an alpine village above Lauterbrunnen with an elevation of 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.).
Some visitors to Lauterbrunnen have expressed their disappointment with the low volume of water flowing do…

Iseltwald -Brigadoon by the Sea

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The village of Iseltwald is a quick 15-minute bus ride from bustling Interlaken. But those few minutes through a winding, one lane highway that manages to squeeze two vehicles going in opposite directions, make all the difference in the world. I felt like I arrived in Brigadoon as fog hovered over green hills that roll down to the lake. Yes, the setting of the musical, Brigadoon, is the Scottish Highlands. And I´m in equally magical Switzerland.

Lake Brienz is like a mirror reflecting the surrounding mountains and valleys that is home to a few hundred residents.

The streets were so quiet as I walked around the village in early afternoon. Were the locals taking a siesta? But this is not Spain! The only noise I heard was from my camera as I clicked away, trying to capture this sleeping beauty that will awake in winter when skiers descend upon the village. How lucky I was to observe the smoke curling out of the chimney of this wooden church without the selfie crowd!

Chalets line the water´s…