Mind blown with science

We came to Geneva for one reason and one reason only, to visit Cern. For those of you not familiar with the Hadron collider or the Higss boson particle, I suggest you click on the links to read about them and prepare to have your mind blown! This was on Peter’s bucket list and it was the 60th anniversary of Cern. I have to admit, it was pretty fun to geek out for a little bit.

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There was finally a bit of a clear day and we took a walk around the Botanical Gardens. It’s great to have something like this in the middle of a city.

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We happen to be staying in a great part of town right on Lake Geneva at Hotel Bristol  We have been taking a little walk everyday and watching the ducks and the geese fight to swim upstream. I assure you, this is more entertaining than it sounds.

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Finally, as a kick off to my world tour really starting and vacation ending, we had a delightful dinner of cheese fondue and steak fondue at a place called Auberge de Saviese.  The atmosphere was very cute and the food was delicious!

From France to Switzerland

It has been a lazy last couple of days. We took the TGV train form Nice to Geneva which was an absolutely beautiful and very easy 6 hour train ride.

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It wasn’t all just French Riviera beauty. There was graffiti along the way that I found to be very interesting. I wish I knew what it all meant. IMG_9691

When we arrived at the train station in Geneva, we had to go through customs except customs was just taking the crowd down from a mob to two by two to a single file line. No stamp in the passport. No checking of my ID on the train or even checking the train ticket. According to my passport, I am still in France.

Although Switzerland will accept the Euro, they still use the Swiss franc. The picture below is 8.80 CHF or 9.99 USD. Change is not something you just toss since it actually has SOME value.

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Nice is nice

After two full days walking around Nice, I can say my feet are killing me and I have a very nice idea of what Nice has to offer.

With such a great hotel and such a great view, it is hard to leave the hotel. But alas, one must explore while traveling. We took ourselves on a bit of a walking tour in search of  La Roustide so that Peter could have a foie gras burger. Sadly, we arrived at about 2pm and the restaurant closes at 1:30pm for lunch. The upside, we were off the beaten path and away from all the tourists. We made a quick stop at the Museum of Modern Art and headed back to rest for dinner.

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Today was a bit more of an adventure. Mom and I decided to head out early (9:00am) to hit up the market in Vieux Nice (Old Nice). We grabbed an espresso and some fresh bread for breakfast and stumbled upon some socca and crepes along the way. I was told to try socca while I was here and it was pretty interesting. I think this would be something fun to try to make at home for a dinner party next year when I have a kitchen again. 🙂

Socca

Socca

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Peter met up with us and we headed to the Chagall Musuem This was the first museum built for a specific artist while the artist was still alive. La Danse (pictured below) was commissioned by the London Watergate Theater along with another painting. Soon, they realized they would not be able to afford the paintings and Chagall kept them in his personal collection.

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Mom and I put our feet in the ocean so that we could say we put our feet in the Mediterranean Sea. The problem is, the beach is all little stones and pebbles and is really uncomfortable. Hopefully I will find my perfect beach along the way.

Once again, I have been spoiled these past few days by staying at Hotel Le Negresco thanks to Seth with aXcess Travel! We are in the Coco Chanel suite with a gorgeous view of Promenade de Anglais and the Mediterranean Sea.

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Panoramic or artwork at Le Negresco

Panoramic or artwork at Le Negresco

 

From St. Remy to Nice, the adventure continues

Once again, just call me taxi cab Jenna. We drove over 300 kilometers today to get from St. Remy to Nice with a stop in Bandol. Feel free to take a look at my crazy route. We only went to Bandol in the hunt for some delicious rose of course.

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We had a little adventure around Nice but really today was a travel day again. Dinner was in a carousel (I’m not kidding) and tomorrow the exploration of Nice will start. However, the view from my hotel room is out of this world!

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Tour de Provence

Mom and I started the day with a walk into St. Remy for the weekly market. We picked up some new scarves as well as some delicious strawberries, nuts and fresh baked bread for a little picnic lunch later in the day.

We were told to drive to a town called Les Baux de Provence and along the way there were some amazing Roman ruins called Glanum dating back to about 30BC. It was amazing to be driving and just have these pop up alongside you on the road. You can tell how large they are because I am standing in the archway.

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We drove through Les Baux de Provence and took in the beauty, but there were a TON of tour buses and we did not want to deal with them. Peter wanted to go to Arles where Van Gogh was inspired to paint the Starry Night painting and apparently cut off his ear. This was another drive through town and there was not stop for us.

Next up was a stop at another little town called Eygalieres and along the way we ended up stopping at Abbaye de Montmajour. I still find it fascinating that there is so much history packed into such a little space.

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As we were heading to Eygalieres we happen to see the tasting room for Domain de La Vallongue which has some delicious wines and of course we stopped to make a purchase. We drove around Eygalieres, but it was that odd between lunch and dinner time when everything seems to close.

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Once again, I was the trusty chauffeur for this half day adventure.

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Finally it was time for dinner and we had to dine where the locals din.  We ended up at a great little place on the outer circle (makes sense once you are here) called Café de la Place. The food and wine was delicious and the atmosphere was just what you want to not seem like a tourist.

And where did we stay this entire time? The pictures cannot do justice to show how beautiful the Hotel Le Vallon de Valrugues really is. We have been staying in the Suite Prestige thanks to Seth with aXcess Travel who did some amazing work on getting us upgraded AND had breakfast for three included at an absolutely amazing rate!

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Pictured above: Private plunge pool and terrace. View of the outdoor pool from our terrace. Main open bedroom and dining room area. Terrace again. Second room with queen bed. Billiards lounge in the hotel.

To Gordes and beyond!

France is quite a large country and Southern France has a ton of areas to explore. We chose to take a day trip to Gordes and Bonnieux and we were not disappointed!

Somehow I was appointed to be the driver along this beautiful countryside. I think living in LA gave me the one up on being fearless on the roundabouts. This lovely tree lined road is actually a major highway.

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Gordes is a fantastic little village up in the mountains and just absolutely beautiful. We walked around and explored and stopped for a glass of wine overlooking the valley. This is one of those places you can just sit and relax. On our way out, we stopped at Les Caves de La Bastide de Gordes to pick up a few wines and some champagne for the hotel. You know, when in France…

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Next up was a little town Southeast of Gordes called Bonnieux. Our intention was to have lunch here, but we were in the odd hour when everything was closed. Instead, we walked around and stopped in a shop and bought some olives, cheese and pate and headed back to the hotel.

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Sometimes, the best time can actually be spent in the hotel room. We enjoyed our appetizer and new wine before an adventure into town for dinner. I decided to pick up a little bit of “reading” to enjoy with our wine.

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It started raining the second we were in town so we stopped at Brasserie Les Varietes for some foie gras and rose. This region is know for their rose’s and it is almost a must drink when you are here.

Next up was a little tapas bar called Café des Arenes. The owner Xavier, is also the bartender and server and had a place in LA from 1999-2005 called Electric Karma. It was between The Grove and the Beverly Center and apparently one write up in the LA Times gave him all the press he needed. The picture below is of the various famous people that came to his restaurant throughout the years. It just goes to show you what a small world it really is!

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Farewell London and hello France

I would count today as mostly a travel day. It was my first adventure on Easyjet and I am sure not my last. I would compare them to the service of Southwest with the “add-on” options of Spirit. You pay to print your boarding pass at the airport, receive an assigned seat, check your luggage, pay for water or soda on the flight or anything else you could imagine needing. However, the flights are pretty cheap and that is exactly what I am looking for on this trip.

Obviously the only thing to do after getting situated with the rental car and hotel, is treat oneself to a AWESOME dinner. Seth with aXcess Travel insisted that we try the restaurant at Le Vallon de Valrugues and that was exactly what we did. The menu was bigger than my body and the food was out of this world! I will just let the pictures do all the talking.

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A day in the English countryside

Today was a day journey to the lovely countryside of England. Once again, we were able to visit some friends who showed us all around their area. We had a beautiful drive and passed some grape seed that I had to stop and take a picture of! I think the picture looks perfect!

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We started with a walk that took us to the local church that was built somewhere around 1240AD where the whipping post was still standing! Mom said she was having flashbacks. 🙂 Of course, we had to stop at the local pub, The Queens Head, for a pint before a traditional Ploughman’s lunch.

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Next stop was the Amberley Castle which is now a hotel and restaurant. For some reason, I felt right at home here. The grounds were beautiful and after a little bit of coaxing, the peacock fanned it’s feathers for us!

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Next stop was a quick drive to look at the view of the countryside from the downs. You can see the water from here which is absolutely amazing on a clear day like this.

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Our last little stop while we were out and about was  at one of the Royal Society of Protection for Birds sanctuaries for afternoon tea.

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It was a relaxing but exhausting day in the country.

Fun fact: Llamas and sheep are often kept together as the llamas protect the sheep from foxes.

 

A French culinary tour through London…sort of

We have been setting out to accomplish so much everyday and falling quite short. Today we set out to have lunch, walk around the Saatchi Gallery and have dinner. And I must say, we accomplished it all!

We thought we were experts at the train by now, but we still managed to get on the wrong one for our transfer to Chelsea. The great thing about trains is that you can just get off and get on the next one at the next stop. As long as you are not on a time schedule, this works just fine.

Anyhow, today was a day in Chelsea with a wonderful dinner to cap off our night. We stumbled across a delightful restaurant called Cote  Brasserie where they had a wonderful 2 or 3 course lunch menu. I indulged in the Duck, Chicken and Pork Liver Terrine with Chargrilled Sourdough Bread and Cornichons followed by the Sauteed Haddock with Pea Puree, Pea Sprouts and Bacon Lardons. Peter and I also decided to try a French beer since we were in the French mood.

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Next stop was the Saatchi Gallery. As I have mentioned before, I love museums, but this gallery was AMAZING! The art was off the wall and totally odd and absolutely amazing. I will let some of the pictures do the talking.

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Casa Tomada by Rafael Gómezbarros (The ants)

Figures in Red by Antonio Malta Campos

No Way Out by Christian Rosa

Lifetime by July Sumalde (16 years old)

There were so many amazing paintings in this gallery and I am sure I could have spent hours here, but the pieces above are just a few that caught my eye.

We took a little more time to stroll around Chelsea before heading to a pub and dinner. Once again, we stumbled upon a quaint little pub called The Iron Duke. We had a few pints there since we had about an hour to kill before dinner at Le Petite Maison.

One would think that since we had French for lunch we would not have French for dinner, but we did. Le Petite Maison is on the corner of a fantastic little neighborhood and requires a reservation. The atmosphere is bustling and the staff is very attentive. Everything is served family style and I think we managed to try half the menu. We had the Salade de Haricots Verts au Foie Gras, Burrata et Tomates, Calamars Frits, Escargot, Pates du Jour, Sole Poelee au Grain de Moutarde, Cotelettes d’Agneau Vivienne, Vanilla Crème Brulee and a Strawberry Gazpacho with sugar coated croutons! Of course this was accompanied by a delicious rose and all was right in the world!

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It was a great day full of amazing food! Everyday brings something new and exciting to my adventures!

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