Biking in Burgundy

Your faithful guest blogger is back from Copenhagen – notes and photos on that later!

I’d like to share one of my favourite trips outside of Switzerland – biking in Burgundy, France (I thought I’d clarify in case you were thinking the post was about cycling in a maroon shirt…).

In essence, going on this trip feels like you are in a French film – you wind your way through French vineyards, glide through old French wine-making villages, take in the breathtaking scenery, even stopping to sample a grape now and then.
I was with a group, and we stayed in Beaune, France,  and for the cycling aspect we used Burgundy Evasion Bike Tours, which I highly recommend.  Florian, who runs the tiny company, is an excellent guide.  He speaks both French and English.
Here are some photos from the bike rides:

As for Beaune, to me it feels like the quintessential French village – cobblestone streets, lots of wineries for tasting, a wonderful Saturday market (you might recall my love of markets!), little winding streets, and lots of “terrasses” (patios) on which you might enjoy a glass of local burgundy wine.

Off to a wine-tasting!Guess which bottle is the normal wine bottle size???  Yup, the one on the left.  The one on the right would require a serious celebration!

The streets of Beaune.Market produce.  What can I say, the French know how to display their veggies.

Of course my blog posting wouldn’t be complete without a mention (at least one…) of food – one of my favourite French treats is called a “macaron” (macaroon).  This one café (sorry, the name escapes me) offers a large selection of flavours, and you can have it elegantly with tea, as I did below.  (Perhaps mine was less elegant because I drooled so much in anticipation!)

In Beaune there is a very old hospice (no longer being used as one) which you can tour – I also would recommend this!
If you are looking for a trip to France, I would suggest you give Beaune a try…because how can you not follow the sign below??

Happy Sunday,
northkate

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Happy Birthday Blog!

My first post was on this day, one year ago.

Happy birthday, blog!

I started Wistfully Wandering just as a way to keep up a travel log for myself, and to share with a few of my family and friends around me, who are always asking what I have been up to.

Now, I have grown to enjoy starting my day musing about my travel experiences and dreams.

Thank you everyone for reading about my wistful wanderings and wonderings!

Check out my first wandering post:

One thing I am getting into lately is themed trips. Pick a topic: a culinary journey, architectural experience, vineyard voyage, historical encounter… Not all trips can be categorized, but when I go for the short, in-out experience, sometimes a specific theme will help the experience (and help with my packing!)

Chicago skyline from the Hancock Tower

So – Chicago

Theme: No heels

This weekend (2.5 days) was about SPORTS and PIZZA, causal, relaxing, fun.

The one city in the USA that I thought would be on my top three (New York, San Francisco and Chi-town). It was very true. But let it be known, as you have read above, I am still relatively new to this traveling thing. I haven`t been to that many places around the world (shock!!), and I really have to visit Boston and Portland in the USA to get a feel for what I like as well, as I have heard from many a people.

So anyway, back to Chicago. It is really tied (for US cities) with New York and San Francisco. They are all so different, but all so loveable in their own ways. New York – you have the gritty, magnificently old buildings with a history and a famous story to tell. So many people, so many options and things to experience there. San Francisco – The hills, the stucco homes, and the hiking! Something about the west coast. Geography/geology/healthy living/outdoors vibe going on.

Chicago…sorry, I was distracted again. The buildings and architecture for what it is famous for, and the deep dish

Pizza at Lou Milnati's

pizza. This weekend was dedicated to baseball, hockey playoffs, and deep dish pizza. All were so much fun, and I can’t wait to go back and meet more amazing people, food and architectural venues.

Wrigley Field was crazy! So many random adventures going on in and out of the stadium. Everyone is a fan. Baseball is a bigger sport me thinks (as my man pointed out) than hockey. Two teams in baseball versus one in hockey. The real baseball experience was just what I have always dreamed of after attending countless games at the SKYDOME in Toronto. Of course, the old Yankee Stadium was also the same deal as Chicago, so lets include these two stadiums in my judgement. THIS is real baseball. Come on Toronto, get in the game.

Next, seeing a play-offs game Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks…not exactly my passion, but still was absolutely a better experience than even my baseball games that I always love. Makes me want to take back the comment about Chicago being a baseball city.

A play-offs game! Imagine wearing Canuck’s gear to a deciding game. I was a bit nervous, but wanted to see what the reactions would be. Who would have discovered that Chicago had the nicest people in the US? Everyone was making sure we were being treated well and felt safe during the game.

United Center

Where was the heckling? The booing? Afterward, when the Canuck’s lost, we were welcomed open-armed into a pub to drown our sorrows…drinks on them.

Finally, let’s talk about the food…I mean the deep dish deliciously delectable pizza pie. Mmmmm. Please visit Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s for their pies. The rumour was as well that Gino’s East was to be included in the list. Unfortunately though, over Easter weekend, this restaurant was close for my tasting pleasure. Oh well, next time!

This could go on for a while. So why don’t I just post a picture or two or three.

Wrigley Field

Hancock Tower

The Water Pump

Camping gear

This could be me! (Source)

It looks more and more likely that there might be camping involved in my summer plans this year. I really would love to make a trip out to Yellowstone, and instead of putting myself up in expensive hotels, I would rather save the money and give camping a try.

I think the last time I went camping was in Morocco, and I loved it. Although I slept on the pointiest rocks I have ever encountered, and a mouse ran out of my friends sleeping bag in the middle of the night, and I had to go to the washroom behind a rock, it was a wonderful experience and I would love to do it again.

So my mission right now is to track down some (hopefully free) camping equipment. What do I have? What will I need? Where will I get equipment if I cannot borrow it from a friend?

Here is what I have:

  • camping pillow
  • sleeping bag
  • air matress
  • sheets
  • a cooler
  • old magazines and matches for a fire
  • trash bags
  • dish soap
  • containers/pots/utensils/cups/paper towels
  • bug repellant/sunscreen
  • first aid kit
  • flashlight/batteries
  • air pump

What I will need:

  • tent
  • tarp
  • stove/charcoal/bbq grill

Where can I get it?

  • Hopefully a friend
  • Canadian Tire – Look at this tent on sale!
  • Wholesale Sports – Another good tent on sale here.
  • La Cordee – has just what I need here 🙂
  • Mountain Equipment Co-op – hmm, don’t think I would rent a tent, I could buy one for those prices! But the hammock looks neat here.

I also found this great camping checklist of everything you should prepare for and everything you should  pack here.

Road Trip!

When I first met my boyfriend, it was on our second date that we came up with a list of road trips that we MUST do together. Yes, it was crazy for two reasons. First, we were talking about traveling together on our second date, and secondly, because we could think of so many road trips that we BOTH have desired to partake in. I found this list the other day, and was surprised that I could check a few of these places off the list already.

Here is the list that has been sitting in my phone for just over a year now:

1. Beartooth Highway – Through Yellowstone Country in Wyoming and Montana. Imagine all the wildlife wandering along on either side, the countless different landforms making you feel like you have gone through 5 different climate zones, gorgeous sunsets…

Source

2. Highway 101 – Along the west coast of the US (California, Washington, and Oregon). I can stop at one of my favorite US cities, San Francisco, take a side trip to Sonoma and Napa Valley, then move on to LA, to the Olympic Mountains, pause and enjoy a few beaches, and…, ok not in that order perhaps, but you get the idea I hope.

Source

3. Road to Hana – I have done this spectacularly jaw-dropping trip when I was in Hawaii and cannot wait to do it again to show my man. Again, you feel like you are driving through so many different climate zones. You go from hot, windy, beach suitable weather, to dark cool rainy roads, to lush rainforests, to deep valleys and gulches to high cliffs that seem to take you into the clouds.

4. Top of the World – Off to Alaska, northern BC and Yukon, sounds like an adventure waiting to unfold. Also, the Aurora Borealis is a must see for me. I saw it a few times in the past but I was very young in one instance, and in the other instance, it was faint. I want to see it in its full glory!

5. Going to the Sun – Done! WOW! And with the man. Glacier National Park in Montana treated us well for the brief time we were there. The mountains are gorgeous and make sure you ‘go to the sun’ as early as you can so you can enjoy the sun rising. The wildlife was also a great bonus. The road was under construction when we went, with a few delays, but how can you complain when you get to stop and stare at the scenery?

6. Great Smokies – I wasn’t too familiar with this one, but a trek through North Carolina and Tennessee sounds good to me! Hiking and camping in the Appalachians, just what I love!

7. Amalfi Coast – Done, with my man!  This drive was spectacular. We started out in Lanciano and went down to Pechiche,  Vieste, Bari, Matera then set out for the Amalfi coast going through Positano, and ending in Sorrento. Absolutely WOW. And this was done with a hugely majorly gigantic thanks to Katie, who could expertly drive a standard car through the narrow a** roads, up hills, back from dead end, and around droves of goats.

8. Highwood Pass – Done! Through Kananaskis Country. The two rock slide remnants I saw were facinating to see. Plus the mamma grizzly bear who we met two days in a row.  Oh, and the potato thing I had to eat at the Delta Hotel on my Restaurants page.

9. The Autobaughn – No speed limit! Amazing cars! Let me on there. As an unfortunate person who has received several speeding tickets, please, I just need to get out there and do my thing. Watch me be the slowest person on that highway…

10. Route 66 – Famous in the US. I want to feel this experience, after numerous songs, a tv show…all the stories, before it is gone.

11. Monument Valley – Arizona and Utah. Imagine all of the rocks to see! Sorry, I have a secret obsession with rocks! I could actually act out a movie  or two or three here.

Source

12. Death Valley – Scary sounding…hottest place in North America, imposing sand dunes. Another adventure! For some reason, when I think about this trip, I picture myself in cut off jean shorts, a white top, and a cowboy hat (with the boots lets not forget) kicking the tire of my broken down and smoking ’67 cadillac. My legs look great by the way in this visualization. Wasn’t there a music video, or 2 or 3 shot there?

Thelma and Louise

Start your engines!!

Happy 125th Anniversary…

…National Parks of Canada!

Close your eyes…no wait! Just pretend to and read on. You know that music you hear on commercials that represent peaceful sounds of nature, the birds tweeting, the flutes gently playing a soothing note, then you see a rabbit under a tree, a deer nudging it’s newborn to walk, and butterflies fluttering around the flowers? Got the sound in your head?

Isn’t that the song you hear every time you enter a national park, right past the welcome sign? I mean, if you have ever visited Banff and passed the “rustic” booths to pay for your entrance to the park, past all the lines of SUV’s and signs featuring major restaurant chains available within the park, that’s the music that pops into your head right?

Ok, not knocking the national parks, I actually find them amazingly beautiful once you get past all those commercialized and congested towns associated with the park. Last summer, as I mentioned, I had a great opportunity to visit three Canadian national parks with one amazing tour guide (and also visited one American park at that time, which I will skip talking about for now as I celebrate the Canadian anniversary).

Waterton Lakes National Park

The first stop was Waterton Lakes National Park. As soon as I crossed the line into the park I saw gorgeous hills turn into mountains, wildflowers just coming into bloom and deer grazing on the grasses. That song started running in my head. Then all of a sudden my guide spotted a bear! My first live bear (minus the zoo…does that really count?). I was getting so excited! Then a bit further down the road, ANOTHER black bear, with two cubs…and a whole whack of tourists scaring them off. Hmmm…time to move on there. The drive through the quaint little town of Waterton was quite enjoyable.

My trip started off amazingly. I took some great pictures with my SLR that I was trying to get the hang of. After a few wonderful days there, it was time to move on to Glacier National Park in Montana, then right over to Banff National Park.

Banff was pretty entertaining. I only stayed for a night because it was too crowded for the type of trip my guide and myself wanted to partake in. Ate at Earl’s, walked around town, took a few pictures and moved on.

Banff

After a quick stop in Banff, I was quite excited to see Jasper. A little more remote, quiet, AND the best prime rib

Athabasca Falls

I would have in my life, guaranteed by my guide! Good thing I was attempting to become a vegetarian at the time, huh? Oh boy Prime Rib Village is a MUST eat! I had to go back for the second night too. Good thing my guide was actually my boyfriend, who did not judge me, just encouraged me!

A day trip to Icefields Parkway and Columbia Icefields, to Pyramid Lake Road, Medicine Lake, and Athabasca Falls was just breathtaking and my camera quickly became exhausted.

Visiting all these parks made me feel fresh, alive, closer to lovely mother earth.

As my planning continues for Summa Time 2011, I really hope a stop in a park similar to these gorgeous places is included. I can never get enough nature in my life. Happy anniversary!

Love, Sweet Love

Villa La Playa

My friend came to me last week asking me if I knew of any ideas for a honeymoon which would have to be amazingly, romantically, quickly completed in 5 days and did not consist of laying all day in a recliner in the sun sipping sugary sweet daiquiri’s. Hmmm, any ideas? I suggested Lake Louisa, Alberta first. No way, too cold for her appetite. New York City? A little better, but they were just there not too long ago. What about San Francisco? Getting warmer she said, but also it’s a bit chilly there and also, she was there not too long ago as well! One more try…San Diego? Bingo!

You have the day at the beach if you fancy a nice relaxing day. Next, The San Diego Zoo or SeaWorld could occupy an afternoon. Why not Balboa Park? The groom might also enjoy an afternoon of golfing at one of the great clubs there and in the meantime she can check out the shops in the area.

Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of visiting this city, but from all the great things I have heard, I felt confident enough recommending it. Cross your fingers they enjoy it!

Five other quick honeymoon ideas:

1. Quebec City

2. Montreal

3. Vancouver

4. Napa Valley

5. Chicago

Chicago Theme

One thing I am getting into lately is themed trips. Pick a topic: a culinary journey, architectural experience, vineyard voyage, historical encounter… Not all trips can be categorized, but when I go for the short, in-out experience, sometimes a specific theme will help the experience (and help with my packing!)

Chicago skyline from the Hancock Tower

So – Chicago

Theme: No heels

This weekend (2.5 days) was about SPORTS and PIZZA, causal, relaxing, fun.

The one city in the USA that I thought would be on my top three (New York, San Francisco and Chi-town). It was very true. But let it be known, as you have read above, I am still relatively new to this traveling thing. I haven`t been to that many places around the world (shock!!), and I really have to visit Boston and Portland in the USA to get a feel for what I like as well, as I have heard from many a people.

So anyway, back to Chicago. It is really tied (for US cities) with New York and San Francisco. They are all so different, but all so loveable in their own ways. New York – you have the gritty, magnificently old buildings with a history and a famous story to tell. So many people, so many options and things to experience there. San Francisco – The hills, the stucco homes, and the hiking! Something about the west coast. Geography/geology/healthy living/outdoors vibe going on.

Chicago…sorry, I was distracted again. The buildings and architecture for what it is famous for, and the deep dish

Pizza at Lou Milnati's

pizza. This weekend was dedicated to baseball, hockey playoffs, and deep dish pizza. All were so much fun, and I can’t wait to go back and meet more amazing people, food and architectural venues.

Wrigley Field was crazy! So many random adventures going on in and out of the stadium. Everyone is a fan. Baseball is a bigger sport me thinks (as my man pointed out) than hockey. Two teams in baseball versus one in hockey. The real baseball experience was just what I have always dreamed of after attending countless games at the SKYDOME in Toronto. Of course, the old Yankee Stadium was also the same deal as Chicago, so lets include these two stadiums in my judgement. THIS is real baseball. Come on Toronto, get in the game.

Next, seeing a play-offs game Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks…not exactly my passion, but still was absolutely a better experience than even my baseball games that I always love. Makes me want to take back the comment about Chicago being a baseball city.

A play-offs game! Imagine wearing Canuck’s gear to a deciding game. I was a bit nervous, but wanted to see what the reactions would be. Who would have discovered that Chicago had the nicest people in the US? Everyone was making sure we were being treated well and felt safe during the game.

United Center

Where was the heckling? The booing? Afterward, when the Canuck’s lost, we were welcomed open-armed into a pub to drown our sorrows…drinks on them.

Finally, let’s talk about the food…I mean the deep dish deliciously delectable pizza pie. Mmmmm. Please visit Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s for their pies. The rumour was as well that Gino’s East was to be included in the list. Unfortunately though, over Easter weekend, this restaurant was close for my tasting pleasure. Oh well, next time!

This could go on for a while. So why don’t I just post a picture or two or three.

Wrigley Field

Hancock Tower

The Water Pump