French Countryside – Luberon

Traveling through the countryside in Provence has been in our travel vault for a couple years now and we finally were able to do it.  Timing of the trip was important as we wanted to visit the lavender fields that are in bloom for only a short period of time.   Besides the lavender fields we visited beautiful wineries, walked around villages and drove on tree-lined roads.  Aix-en-Provence was the perfect base to be able to visit some of the smaller towns in Luberon region.  If we had more time, we would have venture North to Avignon and visit some surrounding villages around the Rhone River including some tastings in the region of Chateauneuf du Pape. Next time. For now, here are some highlights from our day trip!

Private Driver (Transportation)

Since we both don’t drive stick, we typically hire drivers while traveling in foreign countries. Yes, it can be expensive, but we value paying the money so we don’t have to worry about directions, car problems, getting lost and most importantly we just want to sit back and enjoy the ride! Our hotel (Hotel Cezanne) recommended Mathieu Fasius ( tel: +330649848324, email: mathieutaxiaixois@gmail.com).  He was a fantastic local driver with a nice Mercedes sedan.  Mathieu helped come up with the perfect Itinerary for us and we much enjoyed our time with him.  We also had Mathieu drive us the following day to Saint-Tropez which was our next destination.  We stopped at a couple wineries while enroute to the beautiful seaside town.  Highly recommend Mathieu!

Chateau La Verrerie

Chateau La Verrerie was the first winery we tasted at and it didn’t disappoint. Driving up to the estate, you felt like you were in a movie.  The courtyard screamed “French Countryside” and made for a lovely welcoming into the tasting room.  The staff onsite was very friendly and we got a tour of the barrel room prior to tasting.  We explored a variety of rosés, whites and a couple reds.  Our favorites were no surprise – the rosé.   We purchased two kinds of rosé and the viognier. Typically viognier isn’t our go to order, but at Cheateau La Verrerie they do it right! Excellent winery and even better prices! Next time we are going to have to bring friends so we can purchase the magnum!  

Aureto Vignobles

Aureto was the second winery we visited that day. It was a larger operation, but that didn’t discredit the wines produced.  We bellied up to the bar and enjoyed the flight tasting with a very friendly lady who walked us through the varietals.  Very nice whites and reds!  Unfortunately due to Covid, they weren’t serving small bites with the tastings, but we managed to drink our calories to hold us over for a late lunch in Lourmarin. 

Lavender Fields in Bonnieux

A lovely drive through Bonnieux takes you to the gorgeous lavender fields.  The lavender is in bloom from mid-June to mid-July, though it can vary slightly from year to year depending on rainfall and temperature. We timed our trip perfectly as the lavender was going to be harvest the following week. Frocking through the lavender fields was one highlight from the trip.  It was breathtaking seeing the rows of lavender with the beautiful French countryside villages in the distance.  The smell of the plants were illuminating which distracted us from the bees that were flying all around.  Not too worry – nobody got stung! Instagram photos don’t disclose that part of the experience! We warned you! If you ever get a chance to frolic through lavender fields – do it. Worth the drive!

Lourmarin

Our final stop of the day was in Lourmarin for lunch and shopping.  Lourmarin is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.  There are a lot of café terraces, restaurants and Provencal shops in this small quant village.  We did some shopping prior to sitting down to lunch.  Purchases included linens from  AU FIL DU LIN – La Boutique, some jewelry at Gris Piedra and a market bag at a small shop (name unknown).  We decided to eat at Café Gaby as there was a perfect table for two outside on the terrace and their niçoise salad looked tasty!  Make sure you reserve a couple hours to enjoy lunch and walk around Lourmarin – it shouldn’t be missed!

Wineries Enroute to Saint-Tropez 

As part of our transfer, we decided to stop at two wineries along our way to Saint-Tropez.  Mathieu was our driver again for the day and it was a most enjoyable experience!  Both wineries we went to were a little more touristy, but still enjoyable. We liked Domaine Peyrassol better than Saint Roseline.  Saint Roseline was gorgeous, but the wines were just okay in our option.  At Domaine Peyrassol, we enjoyed the tasting so much we didn’t get a chance to walk around the property to see the artwork.  The grounds driving up to the Domaine were an experience in itself though!

Santé !

San Diego County Favorites

Del Mar Beach

Del Mar is one of the best beaches in San Diego County.  It is a great place to bring families, friends and visitors on those hot summer days.  Being in a residential area, the beach is lined with beach houses that are nice to look at while taking a mid-day stroll.  T.W.O. enjoys bringing a picnic lunch, our paddleball set and a great book to Del Mar beach.

Claire’s on Cedros Bakery & Café

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If you are looking for a great place to grab a coffee and pastry, a delicious sit-down breakfast or a tasty lunch…Claire’s on Cedros in Solana Beach is the place to go.  Not only is the food fresh and amazing, the building is the only LEED Platinum certified building in San Diego. The atmosphere is casual and inviting for all ages.

Petco Park

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Baseball has been apart of T.W.O.’s life since we were born.  We have been to many baseball fields in our life, and Petco Park is in the top five favorite stadiums list.  Located in the center of downtown San Diego, the stadium has spectacular views and offers many amenities for families and young adults.  During the summer months after certain games, there are country concerts.  T.W.O. had the chance to go see Dierks Bentley.  Yee haw!

Del Mar Horse Races

 

Opening Day at the Del Mar Horse races is such a fun day.  Sun dresses, big hats, linen suits, fedoras, jockeys and horses…who wouldn’t like this?  Place your bets now because this is the only track where the surf meets the turf.

Board & Brew (Del Mar)

T.W.O. loves a good sandwich, so when we are headed to the beach we always stop by Board & Brew to pick up lunch.  Turkey, avocado with shredded lettuce on squaw bread is a favorite of T.W.O.  Board & Brew never disappoints!

Seagrove Park

Don’t want to go to the beach, but want to enjoy the great weather?  Seagrove is a great park that has quite the view.  T.W.O. enjoys bringing picnic lunches, our family and our dog Libby!  It’s a great place to people watch, relax and enjoy the incredible views.  If you time it right, you might even be an “uninvited guest” at a wedding!

Rimel’s Rotisserie (Del Mar)

Rimels is a favorite dinner spot for T.W.O.  With fresh food that is made from scratch, T.W.O. enjoys the wok bowls and the potstickers.  Rimels offers a great environment for small or large parties.  There is a big farm fresh table in that back for big group celebrations. If your table isn’t ready, don’t worry because the fire-pits and the outdoor sitting area makes the wait well worth it!

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Pamplona

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When you hear the word Pamplona, what do you think? First guess- “Running of the Bulls.” Correct? Okay, T.W.O. thought so! While in Spain, T.W.O. had the chance to experience the weeklong festival celebrating San Fermin, patron Saint of Navarra for one day. Actually, lets clarify….a couple hours!

Getting to Pamplona from San Sebastian isn’t hard, but making a day trip of it can be a little bit challenging if you wanted to see the run at 8am. (The first train that arrives is at 8:30am, which is already too late to see the run.) The solution….car service! T.W.O. travelled to Pamplona in style with a private driver. Arriving in Pamplona around 7am, T.W.O.’s first mission was to get the gear…the white capri pants and the red scarf. CHECK! Next, T.W.O. luckily had some family friends that were saving a spot on the last turn before going into the bull ring so they were able to see the run from the first row. Well, behind the barricades that housed the police and medics…so second row. CHECK!

The town was lively, full of “hydrated” people roaming/ stumbling the streets of Pamplona. Ambulances lined the city streets… re-assuring, right? Balconies were filled with spectators, anticipating the run as we watched them hoping the balcony didn’t collapse. Needless to say, it was quite the scene!

8am…..GO TIME! It was the fastest 30 seconds of T.W.O.’s life, watching people run for their lives….Some making it, others eating it on the cobblestone and the rest jumping over the barricades to escape the large beasts. The bulls wore bells around their neck, so the runners heard them coming. Torro! Torro! Torro!

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It was a trip well-made and T.W.O. was glad that they can say they “ran with the bulls”.

Ole! Ole!

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The Traveling T.W.O. Journal

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Travel journals have been around since the beginning of time. The pioneers kept journals while traveling to the West to document their hardships, sightings and experiences to the new unexplored land.  Many of these journals have been used to learn more about history and many were lost in the rough, leaving unanswered questions.  Today, T.W.O. has adapted the same concept with their travels around the world.

Before every big trip, T.W.O. buys a journal to document their memories and capture their favorite quotes and experiences. The journal selection process is important; you just can’t select a book with paper in it. Below are some requirements that are needed:

– Hard cover
– Memorable quote or picture on the front, depicting the trip
– Wire ring binding
– 70+ pages

The main idea of the travel journal is to write about each day’s activities so that you can remember everything years later. Hotel and restaurant names, shopping stores and city neighborhoods are all noted in the book.

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T.W.O. uses the travel journal to suggest places to friends and family traveling to the same destination.  The most important part of the book is the “scrapbook” section, which has restaurant business cards, post cards, wine bottle labels, maps and anything else that comes across the way during T.W.O.’s travels.  (There is even a smudge of chocolate from a croissant T.W.O. had in Paris in the travel journal!) Scotch tape is important to bring along so you can tape the items into the book that same day.

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At the end of the trip, T.W.O. recaps their favorite memories and quotes.  T.W.O. finds it important to document these experiences as soon as you can because as time goes own, details are forgotten.  And just like the pioneers, these journals will be passed to future generations.  From wagons, to cars, to trains to planes, we will see what the next century brings!

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Happy Travels!!!!T.W.O. signature