August 24, 2012

Extended Holidays

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:13 pm by newsurroundings

Ok, I think this holiday thing is getting a little out of hand.  My doctor is on holiday for the whole month of August.  Not everyone takes that much time off, but they all seem to go off at the same time- at least all the people we need.  I am not the only member of the family whose doctor is not available.  Biscuit, our beloved cat, has a terrible cold after spending last week in a kennel and his veterinarian is also on holiday.  Yes, cats can get colds- he has been sneezing, swallowing hard (as if his throat hurts), vigorously rubbing his little itchy nose, and sleeping even longer than his normal 18-hours.   I think now he has a fever- his ears feel hot to me- so I’ll have to call and see if there is perhaps one vet left in town.

All the electricians also have apparently left town.  So, we will just have to wait for those light fixtures that I bought months ago to be installed.  Maybe our friend coming over tomorrow night won’t notice the exposed bulbs dangling from cords coming out of uncovered holes in our ceiling.

Tonight, Bryan and I headed out to a new restaurant that we had heard of and were eager to try.  We parked and before we even got up to it, I spotted that too-familiar sign in the window- “Chiuso per la vacanze”.

I suppose I’ll look back on this in a few months and see the humor in it.  But, right now I’m just hoping we don’t have a major plumbing problem or something worse before the end of the month.

There’s one thing I can’t figure out though.  With so many residents on holiday, in the south of France, Turkey, Greece, or wherever, why is there still so much traffic in Lugano?

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August 9, 2012

Provence- a Week in Pictures

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:40 pm by newsurroundings

Provence- say the word and it conjures up images of lavender and poppy fields, vineyards, markets, and hilltop villages.  Bryan and I spent a week in the Luberon area of Provence in June.  We had so much fun driving around in the countryside and visiting the different villages.  Usually one village a day was enough for us, but they are small and close together, so you can see several in one day if you want.  We met a very nice couple from California at our inn and they gave us the CD, “A Year in Provence”, to listen to as we drove around.  I had read the book, but Bryan hadn’t, and we both enjoyed this witty, warm story narrated by Peter Mayle himself.

This is the picture you see in all the books on Provence:

Abbaye Senanque near Gordes

Wheat, lavender, vineyards, mountains, and the mistral (wind)- this picture has it all.

Quintessential Provence.

Provence is known for its markets.  Almost every village has a weekly market.

The market in Roussillon.

There are so many hilltop villages to visit.  Gordes is one of the most popular.

The medieval village of Gordes.

We stayed in the Bastide Cassiopee  near Roussillon.  The owner, Jean-Pierre, made all our dinner reservations and sent us to the most beautiful settings in places we would have never found on our own.

Dinner here lasted 4 hours! Every meal is an event.

The village of Roussillon was our favorite, mainly because it is so different from the others.  Its red cliffs and ochre quarries make it a very unique place.  There is a trail on the edge of town that takes you into one of the former ochre quarries.  It costs a few euros to go on the trail and then you can choose the long or short path.  The long path took us about 45 minutes.

Is this really France??

Provence is supposedly a great place for biking.  It was very hot in late June, so we only went on one short bike ride.  The best thing about being on our bikes was the sound of the wheat fields in the wind.  You can’t appreciate that from your car.

Can you hear it?

We stopped at a couple of wineries in the area for tastings.  We especially liked this one and went back later with our car to purchase a few bottles.

Just look for the “degustation” signs.

Another one of our favorite villages was Oppede le Vieux.  It has a lot of interesting old ruins and we found a really nice shop owned by a husband and wife who are both potters.  She makes whimsical creatures and he makes really beautiful ceramic tableware.

The church dates back to the 12th century!  There are chateau ruins from the 15th-16th century.

Oppede le Vieux

The landscape is so varied.  You can drive a few miles and go from this:

The cliffs in Lioux.

to this:

The beautiful countryside.

to this:

Roussillon

Provence is indeed a special place.