It is funny that when you love to travel and enjoys seeing new places how one plans multiple trips and continues to get out into new areas. 2017 was not an exception. We began in Biarritz ( Basque Country), on to CA for family with a stop in Dublin on the way home, followed by a trip to Milan and Lake Como and then Paris to see a visiting friend. It just flew by. 2018 was also a very busy year, but that will come later.
So beginning with a quick trip by train to Biarritz, we were off to a great start. While early in the year, we pretty much had good weather and enjoyed seeing where the Pyrenees Mountains come into the Atlantic. The food was spectacular, and the visual aspect offered countless photo opps.
So in May we had the pleasure of traveling to CA. Our agent had us try Air Tahiti which basically flys from Paris to LA to Tahiti or the similar route thru San Francisco. Shortly after takeoff, the uniforms disappeared and the the flight attendants were in floral shirts and dresses. Made a relaxing fun filled flight. The main reason on this trip was family and Xander’s Graduation from grade school Cannot believe how fast they grow up. As I write this he is already in high school on a special campus where he is enrolled in College level classes. Of course like all our trips to the states, it starts with a few days in Paris.
Part of our honeymoon was in Santa Barbara and we have always loved this town, so once the boys were back in school for end of year testing we took a short trip north.
So after two weeks we were on our way home, but thanks to our agent, we stopped in Dublin for a few days. We need to go back to Ireland. So much to see. Our only regret, the choice of hotel. We saw lots of really good reviews for the Ashling. It is well located close to hop on, hop off, and other transportation. The staff was fantastic, BUT the room was in dire need of being remodeled. Furniture was badly worn and when we asked for a quiet room, we were given one right on the main road and the tram line, so noise all night. Being we had just arrived from a long flight from LAX, too tired to request a move. Views from the room were nice. So obviously, Guiness and Jameson are must do visits. Along with St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, Phoenix Park, etc.
We were home for just a few weeks when the planned trip to Milan and Lake Como came. It is an easy flight from Bordeaux to Milan, one of the longest parts of the trip was the taxi ride from the Milan airport to the city center. Took nearly 45 minutes, due to distance and some heavy mid day traffic. Regardless, we enjoyed this trip very much. Our hotel was located just a block off the main Plaza in front of the Milan Cathedral so it was really easy to get around. Great shopping streets, a balcony bar in the Vittorio Emanuelle was great for people watching, and so many really good places to dine. I am ready to go back. May make it part of another Italy trip that will include Verona and maybe parts of Umbria.
After three days in Milan, we headed North to Lake Como. Milan is a large city so the train station was about a 20 minute cab ride away. My only discomfort on any of the travels we did was in this train station. All the tickets are sold by machine. The local trains( like to Lake Como) are not reserved seats, and the times are really difficult to understand. Luckily, I found one of the agents in the area and he assisted with our tickets. We had just missed a train so grabbed a quick snack in one of the shops. The lake is actually quite long with small villages scattered around the shore. Como, Bellagio, Varenna are three of the largest. We choose to stay in Varenna as we could reach it directly by train. Como requires driving as does Bellagio (it can be reached by ferry from Varenna.) Our hotel the Royal Victoria was lakefront with stunning views. We had no issues with our room, but in passing the front desk a few times, we did hear several other guests vigorously discussing issues with the desk staff. So I think we would give it a second chance, although, I might train to Varenna then ferry over to Bellagio for a different experience.
We went back to Milan for two more days after this visit, then home to Bordeaux, but not there long as Jan’s good friend Patti was arriving in Paris then coming to stay in Bordeaux for a few days.
As this started 2017 was a busy year, but it is not finished. We still have the Christmas Market in Strasbourg France, but I will do a separate post on all the markets we visited.