Sunday morning in Miraflores is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the night before. It is rather sedate, calm....there's not much going on streetwise.
At this point in our lives; the Missus and I are far removed from "the party". You know; Mom sued to say "nothing good happens after midnight. At a certain point in your life you figure out that "nothing good happens after 10 pm." That's kind of where we're at in life. Though when it comes to Madrid and Spain as a whole; the clock is thrown out the window.
Still, it wasn't that early for us as we left our hotel; 830 am is kind of a late start when we're travelling.
Still, the streets are pretty quiet on a Sunday morning.
We headed off to our breakfast destination. We had some great discussions with our wonderful driver, Benjamin during our trip to see the Nazca Lines. One of the questions I asked was about a typical breakfast in Lima.....I was told that we must get a Sanguche de Chicharron, a pork sandwich for Sunday breakfast, it's a Lima tradition. I'd heard about the iconic pork sandwich; I knew about La Lucha which is quite well known, but Benjamin told me that Dona Paulina is where he takes his family for Sanguches de Chicharron. Which we happened to see the previous evening when we had dinner at Punto Azul.
The place looks like a typical neighborhood Coffee Shop.....
One that sells pork and lomo saltado sandwiches......anyone want a tamal for breakfast?
In spite of the street being fairly empty; Dona Paulina was doing some good business on this morning.
The Missus got an espresso; I an Americano......
And we decided to split an Sanguches de Chicharron....JR....as in a smaller sized sandwich. I'm glad we did.
The sandwich is served using what they call a "French Roll" here. It is yeasty and relatively light. The sandwich is served with a nice salsa criolla which I sometimes make at home. The acid and pungency from the onions helps to cut all the richness of the pork.
There were three different slices of pork in the sandwich; one had a bit of skin and fat which added a nice richness; there's one rather meaty cut, looks like shoulder which, while adding bulk was on the dry side. The fat and moisture from the other slices and the salsa ciolla evened things out.
Of course the Missus loved the slices of camote; sweet potato in the sandwich.
Dona Paulina Calle Alcanfores 715 Lima, Peru
It was a good thing that we shared this sandwich as we planned to have an early lunch.
How do you follow-up a day of flying over the Nazca Lines and a pretty hefty lunch? Well, with a nap of course. After a short respite we decided to head on back out....it was Saturday night after all. We weren't very hungry, but knew we had to have something to eat, but we weren't sure what. That question was soon answered as we passed Punto Azul.
Punto Azul had been on our list the last time we were in Miraflores. Unfortunately, the place was always packed so we never got in. So now, nearly ten years later we were back in front of Punto Azul and the place was only 2/3 full. So why not?
We were quickly seated. Our timing was "on" this evening as the place quickly filled up soon after, with folks waiting for tables.
The crowd seemed split about 50-50; half obvious tourists, the rest seemed to be Peruvian. So we weren't really sure how this meal was going to turn out.
The Missus started with a Pisco Sour, I had some drink with Prickly Pear that sounded pretty good, but ended up being more of a "chick drink".
We were quickly served plantain chips and passable Canchita; toasted corn.
Of course the Missus got the Ceviche Punto Azul; basically a classic cebiche. She also scarfed the camote (sweet potato), which She said needed more flavor and the choclo (the large kernel corn), which of course; She loves.
The fish in the ceviche was on the fibrous and chewy side, though it had been marinated for the perfect amount of time. The leche de tigre was on the mild side and we livened it up with some aji limo (minced red chili pepper).
I, of course, ordered the Tiradito; in this case named Tiraditos al Punto.
This was three classic versions of tiradito; classic, rocoto, and amarilla, and one rather odd version.....olive flavored. I thought this was a pretty good rendition of tiradito; nice creamy sauces, the fish, sliced well and while on the chewy side, was still decent. The Aji Rocoto sauce wasn't very hot, but was quite enjoyable. But it was that odd olive mayo sauce that I thought I wouldn't like....it turned out to be quite an addition. The flavoring wasn't too heavy handed, a nice mild olive flavor, it didn't seem overly rich from the mayo, and there was a touch of acid to help things alone. Well, here was another new one for me.....
The service was friendly, even though things got really busy. This was a nice, if not outstanding meal, and just enough for dinner.
Punto Azul Calle San Martin 595 Lima, Peru
We took our getting back to the room. It was Saturday night in Miraflores and parts of the neighborhood was packed. We avoided the crowds, stopped by the convenience store across the hotel for some water and I even bought me a nightcap.
There's something great about travelling....every day, or evening is new and different. I wish I could do it more.
While the main objective to our trip to Peru and Chile was to travel to Easter Island and check that one of the Missus's bucket list; I thought I'd go for a two-fer and also do the Nazca Lines as well. I did some research and found a well regarded company named Nazca Flights. It wasn't cheap, but we got our own private driver for the over three hour drive to Pisco. His name was Benjamin and he was just a joy to deal with. He arrived punctually at 630am to pick us up.
We arrived at the newly inaugurated, but not yet opened Pisco International Airport. The cargo terminals and one small private terminal was opened. Still, the place was buzzing with excited folks.
Have you heard of the Nazca Lines? I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't heard of it. I recall of first reading about the lines in Erich von Däniken'sChariots of the Gods? Most folks I mentioned the lines to had never heard of them....except for the Japanese. No less than four Japanese Nationals and Ex-Pats mentioned the Nazca Lines, the most surprising was Taka-san at Taisho. When I mentioned we were going to Peru, he didn't mention Machu Picchu....nope it was the "Nazca Lines"!
When we arrived and checked in, we were handed this card with the various Geoglyphs we'd be flying over. Notice anything interesting?
Notice the languages? It's Spanish, English, and Japanese!
And when we got into the terminal area....guess what? It was nearly all middle aged Japanese; mostly women.....in Pisco!
The little terminal was rather charming....we saw the staff being briefed on various subjects and even being tested.
When it was our time to go; our boarding passes were checked and we were escorted onto the tarmac.
The passengers? One British Gentleman, the Missus, Myself, and nine very excited middle aged Japanese women!
The Pilot was really good as I'll describe later on. Both pilots spoke Japanese!
The Missus and I found the whole situation to be quite amusing.
Getting to the lines was when things got even more interesting. There was one line in our packet that instructed us; "DO NOT EAT BREAKFAST THE DAY OF YOUR FLIGHT".
When arrived at the lines, the pilot would descend, then bank, first to his right, turn around and do the same to the left. The copilot would try to point things out; speaking in Japanese. You'd scan the ground below, wondering "what the heck am I supposed to see"?
Focusing in, you'd get a glance of something, a pattern......
And then you'd zero in....and oh my goodness.......
It's really something to see.....
Sometimes it was easier to look across the aisle when the pilot banked in the opposite direction and see things from that perspective.
This took me back to being that 10 year old bookworm, reading Chariots of the Gods under the blanket with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping, dreaming that someday I'd see these myself.
The world never ceases to surprise and thrill us.
The woman sitting behind me was a hoot. The Missus told me that she had a very difficult time seeing the geoglyphs and basically gave up on taking photos. However, as we straightened after banking about 30 times, she stood up and gave the pilots a standing ovation!
Such enthusiasm is infectious and puts everyone in a good mood....though there were a few women who had to have seat....a bit green around the gills and all that.
This was a great experience. One that I'll never forget....and I don't think anyone else who was on that flight will either.
Our driver, Benjamin was such a great guy he displayed the perfect balance of professionalism and warmth that was just outstanding. He really made the difference on the rather long drive. We wanted to buy him lunch. We let him choose and we stopped right next to a gas station in Chincha.
The place was pretty busy and we ordered a bunch of standards, except one new twist on a favorite.
I got the Chicha Morada which was pretty good...not too sweet, with a hint of cinnamon.
Of course the Missus wanted some Cebiche de Lenguado. The leche de tigre was decent if a bit mild; but the fish was marinated a bit too long and had started getting mushy.
I ordered some Tiradito; the "tricolor", strips of corvine with three preparations; "clasica" with leche de tigre, aji amarilla, and aji rocoto sauces.
The fish was prepared well; though I found the sauces to be somewhat thin and watery for my taste.
The seafood on the Causa was quite good; cooked perfectly. The potatoes were bit on the dry side, though the flavors were nice.
The surprise dish was one that Benjamin ordered. He told us that this is the newest version of one of my favorite dishes; Lomo Saltado. This is the off the menu version that combines Lomo Saltado with the classic Peruvian beans and rice dish; Tacu Tacu. Meet the Tacu Tacu con Lomo Saltado.
This was very tasty....the beans and rice actually outshone the lomo saltado with the mild earthy-beany flavor combining with the slightly salty, soy based sauce. The acid of the tomatoes and the sweet-pungency of the onions just went to well with this. The Missus just loved that beans and rice!
This was a nice meal with great company.
Restaurante El Batan Panamericana Sur Km. 197. 5 Chincha Alta, Peru
We got back to Miraflores making good time. We showered and managed to sneak in a short nap before heading out for the evening.
We headed out and along the way passed what I believe are the offices of Ajinomoto Corporation, who had their Christmas gift sets out on a on display.
We headed into the "underground Tokyo Station City", which is an apt description of the floors, street, and underground passageways that surround Tokyo Station. We needed something small to eat and decided to stop in at this little udon shop in the underground.
There was a gentleman making udon in the window, obviously a good draw for the place. But what made us stop was the sign....I asked the Missus, who can read Kanji, "does it say what I think it does"? And She said yes; "Udon, all the broth you can drink, all the tea you can drink, and rice ball....325 yen." That's like $3.25...... Okay.....
The set-up is cafeteria like; I got the special, plus extra cup of tea, and some veggies for like five bucks....really!
A simple dashi based broth (we saw folks going back for more), nice chewy noodles, onigiri, and tea..........more than a decent breakfast for us. I'm not sure when I spent five bucks for breakfast for two......
When we got back, I tried to find out what the name of this place was...to no avail. Thanks to the help of FOY (Friend of Yoso Kat - who recently celebrated her eleventh year of blogging) Kat, I actually managed to find the place. Which is located right at the corner of......
Mugimaru Yaesu Minamiguchi 八重洲2-1 八重洲地下街南1号 B1 Chūō, 東京都 〒104-0028 Japan
Like I've said, you can eat for 300 yen or 30,000 yen in Tokyo....it's your choice.
Interesting little note; we'd never exited on the Maronouchi North Exit of Tokyo Station, which was (when we were there) being renovated. There's a European feel to the façade.
Since we decided on hanging around the Chuo and Chiyoda area on this day; we headed off to the Imperial Palace which was fairly close by.
By the time we got back to Tokyo Station from Kamakura, dusk was quickly approaching.
We got back to the tiny apartment, freshened up and relaxed for a bit. Then it was off to Ebisu Station to meet our good friend Reiko, who we hadn't seen since we had dinner at Tanyaki Shinobu. Hearing that the Missus loved Yakitori, Reiko wanted to take us to an "old school" yakitori "joint" named Tatsuya.
It is a place where salarymen and old timers hang out shoulder to shoulder at the bar, drinking and filling themselves with reasonably priced skewers.....
The business hours; 8am to 5am (?!?) kind of tells you what kind of place this is.
To be honest; the yakitori here is fairly generic.......the Missus and cracked up when we actually had problems figuring out what was kimo (chicken liver), because all of it looked kind of alike!
It was an interesting view into life in Tokyo........ And super reasonably priced as well. And I'm sure this stuff would be great after like 3-4 (or 5-8) beers. It was a fun experience.
Tatsuya 1-8-16 Ebisu-Minami Shibuya, Tokyo
Reiko had another stop planned, but the place was closed. So we decided to walk into a nearby yakiniku shop.
Reiko rarely has yakiniku so she was all for it.
So we ordered a couple of plates and some beer for us.
Good lord this stuff was so good!
I mean, the beef tongue and highly marbled rib meat (A5 Kobe) was great as expected. But the Missus just loved the liver and I was just amazed at how almost buttery and tender the horumon was. And the flavor from the charcoal.......oh man!
It's amazing how a little serendipitous moment can turn into such a great meal. So now, I may have to find a great yakiniku place the next time we're in Tokyo.
There's no info in English on this shop; just a rather light entry in Tabelog.
Oumiteipurasuwan 1-8-10 Ebisu-Nishi Shibuya, Tokyo
Arriving back at Tokyo Station....walking past all the all the men displaying what we call the "Asian Gene", we had to smile.
Yes, Tokyo is a lot of bright lights, hustle and bustle....there's something going on all the time, the folks here walk really, really fast....but a few blocks away you'll find a serene moment. It's that charm that makes me want to keep on coming back.
The temple the Missus really wanted to see (among several) was Jochiji located up a trail away from the main road.
Jochiji is one of the great five temples of Kamakura.
There were a couple of interesting things to see; the Kanro-no-I, the "Nectar Well", one of the "Ten Wells of Kamakura".
But we enjoyed the statue of Hotei; the "God of Happiness". The friendly folks encouraged the Missus to rub his belly for good luck and prosperity. He does look like a jolly fellow, doesn't he?
The Main Hall features statues of the "Three Buddha's", Amida, Shaka, and Miroku.
There are quite a few caves on the temple grounds and it was quite an interesting visit.
Also, from here, if you're in the mood, is where the Daibutsu Hiking Trail begins or ends...depending on which direction you care to take.
We decided to pass. I was getting a bit hungry so we headed back to busy Komachi Street to look for something to eat. We came across this rather charming looking doorway.
Looking at the sign, there was an English translation; of which there was an English translation, it became apparent that this was a soba restaurant. We weren't quite sure to start, but decided to have lunch here.
There's a nice walkway to the restaurant. Which seemed formal, understated, but welcoming at the same time.
Heading down that walkway you enter the restaurant and we instantly saw that they made their own soba here, which sealed the deal.
The place was just starting to fill up....with tourists....Japanese tourists, which wasn't a bad sign.
Since it winter, we went with the hot soba.
The Missus had tororo; grated mountain yam...that somewhat pleasantly gooey and gluey, and mildly sweet stuff.
I went with the Tempura Soba.
The tsuyu was very pleasant, rather light, the noodles were nicely drained, slightly springy, with a nice pull. For some reason, the Missus doesn't care for the lightly battered tempura, which I like....She prefers the rather dense style you find in tempura places in the US....sigh.....
The one thing both the Missus and I didn't care for was the slightly "floury" soba cooking water (soba-yu) that they provide at the end.
The Missus says it tastes just like jiaozi cooking water that they also consume in Qingdao; so go figure.
Overall a nice meal.
Kamakura Yamaji 1-7-3 Yukinoshita Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
After lunch, we headed back to the train station and caught the Electric Train on the Enoden line and got out at Hase. A short walk away is Kotokuin Temple.
This temple is famous for the iconic Daibutsu; the Great Buddha of Kamakura. While the Bronze Buddha of Nara is larger; the outdoor setting makes this rendering of Amida Buddha seem more impressive.
Don't you think?
On the way back to the station we passed this tiny temple.
It's Shugenji Temple. If you scroll down a bit on this website you can read the rather interesting story of the temple and the individual who formerly lived on this property Shijo Kingo.
We contemplated checking out the nearby Hasedera Temple. But decided on returning to Kamakura on another day. We needed to get back to Tokyo, to rest up a bit and then meet a good friend of ours for dinner.
After a fairly busy couple of days on Easter Island, we decided to take a little break during our first day in Lima. We had a wonderful lunch at El Veridico de Fidel, managed to check into a pretty nice upgraded room.....freshened up, then took a nice nap. It was starting to get dark when we awoke.
So, it was time for dinner! We headed out, taking our time......
We passed this fountain looking thing on Tarata Street. It's called the Monument Paseo de la Solidaridad.
We ambled our way to our dinner destination. Right before walking to Maido the night before heading to Santiago, we stopped by a restaurant to make reservations for our first night back in Miraflores at Restaurant Panchita Sazón Criolla, part of the Gaston Acurio empire. Pachita celebrates Perivian Criollo (think Creole) cuisine; the multi-national influenced dishes that equates to comfort food to many in Peru. The Missus headed to Panchita with a bit of apprehension after our so-so meal at Gaston Acurio's celebrated cebicheria La Mar. Still, I was looking forward to some anticuchos. The Hostess had remembered us from the evening we dropped by and made reservations.
We were lead to our table, passing trays of skewered meat....various parts of different creatures.
The woodfired oven looked ready for action.
The customers were a mix of Peruvians and tourists. The service was decent....some bumps in the road but good overall.
I started with a Cusquena Dorada Golden Lager, slightly sweet, mild malts, very nondescript.
Of course the Missus got a Pisco Sour, requesting it not too sweet. This was good, but nowhere near as good as what we had at Maido.
We were asked about bread and had initially thought about skipping it. But decided on getting it after all. If I recall 7 S/ (about $2) per person. This wasn't very good...very much like typical heat and eat stuff.
The Missus was fascinated by the various braised dishes and is a fan of Seco, the traditional beer-cilantro sauce. so She ordered the El Ossobuco Entero (88 S/ - $26), which featured "seco gravy".
We actually had to send this back initially because it was below room temperature. When heated properly, this was quite nice. Rich, a complex, mild herbaceous-sweet-savoriness, and the Missus loved those beans. The ossobuco was very tender and mild in flavor. This is total comfort food. The rice was meh......
I first ordered the Sweetbread Anticuchos (36 S/$10.50).
The sweetbread were lovely, very creamy interior, smoky, rich. Very nice. The Missus loves the potatoes in Peru and this was no exception....and of course, She could never get enough Choclo, the crunchy, large kernel corn, of Peru which She plowed through in a matter of seconds. Starchy instead of sweet crunchy, Choclo differs from Hominy in that it is not dried and treated with lye.
Still, I needed my Anticuchos de Corazon (39 S/ $11.50), beef heart, one of my favorite Peruvian dishes.
This might be the best anticuchos I've had. It had obviously been grilled, but not to the point of getting too firm and chewy. The texture was very nice; firm to the bite, but also quite tender. The marinade was nice, as it wasn't too salty. The Missus wiped out the Choclo again; though I got the potatoes this time. I'm not sure what it is about potatoes in Peru; but they always seem to taste better than what we have here in the states.
While we were eating, this older couple sat at a table nearby. The Missus told me, "they look familiar.....you know, that painting?" Good lord, She was right; give the guy a pitchfork and they'd fit perfectly in a Grant Wood painting!
We really enjoyed our meal at Panchita and the Missus has the place on Her list for a return visit if/when we're back in Lima.
Restaurant Panchita Sazón Criolla Calle 2 de Mayo, Miraflores, Peru
We rolled back to the Courtyard bellies full. The night was getting a bit chilly. We'd had a great day. It was Friday, so the main streets of Miraflores were full of people and cars. But the area around the hotel were much less hectic. We'd have a nice night of sleep.
After a relatively relaxing day in Bordeaux, the Missus decided that we should take at least one day trip. I thought a nice 40 minute train ride into the village of St Emilion, which, in addition to claiming to being the oldest wine producing area in Bordeaux (dating back to Roman times), the village is a World Heritage Site.
Getting off the train, you immediately know what the cash crop here is......
You are engulfed by grape vines......
The walk to the village from the train station was about 15 minutes.
We had decided to arrive fairly early and the streets were sedate, it was quite charming. There were basically no one on the sometimes narrow street as we wound our way up the hill. I guess it wasn't quite "wine o'clock" yet.
There are two distinctive landmarks in the village. The first is the Chateau du Roi, which is located on the hill west of the center of St Emilion.
According to what I read, this used to be the King's Castle and dates back to the 13th century. You can buy tickets to climb to the top, but since it was early the place wasn't open yet.
From here, you can view the rooftops of most of the village and get a nice glimpse of the other major landmark of St Emilion; the Eglise Monolithe, Saint Emilion Monolithic Church.
We were even more impressed after taking a tour....more on that in a bit.
We headed back down into the lower part of the village, then back up the narrow streets until we arrived at Place des Creaneux. This is where the TI office is located. They had just opened. We asked for maps and some other recommendations. As with our other experience at the TI in Sarlat, the young lady here was amazing; such a joy to deal with. She asked us if we'd "like to see a very interesting part of St Emilion that is not open to the public?" And we said, "of course".....so she booked us for "Underground St Emilion"...the first tour, which started at 1030.
This meant that we had about forty minutes of so to kill, so we wondered around a bit. Around the corner from the TI is the Eglise Collégiale, the Collegiate Church. The Romanesque styling means this church has been around for quite a while.
The cloisters, built in the Gothic style is what this church is known for.
It was quite amazing to have a place like this all to ourselves.
It was getting close to the time of our scheduled tour. So we needed to get to that plaza below us. The way down was rather steep and we passed through a gateway; the Porte de la Cadene. There was a very rustic (and old) wooden structure next to the gate, I was told that the name of the gate is derived from "catena", which meant chain. Apparently, there was once a chain which controlled access to the main square of the town at this gate.
There a quite a few questions about the existence of this gate and structure; since it was within the village, why was there a "chain/gate" here? Who was being defended and/or protected? Who doesn't love a little mystery?
We were told to wait for our tour in front of the "three windows".
The tour itself was quite good. We got to learn a bit about the history of St Emilion, which is named after a monk, named, well Emilion, of the Breton Priory, who fled to this area to escape persecution from the Benedictine Order. He settled in a cave, dug out of the hillside that is now St Emilion. During the 45 minute tour, we visited what was (supposedly) his bed, carved out of bedrock, visited catacombs, and we saw paintings within the Trinity Chapel, done in the 13th century. The most impressive thing to us was seeing the amazing "church" carved out of the stone. There were huge devices which looked like they were used to stabilize the ceiling. It was quite amazing....as this all started as a cave carved out by a single monk. What was more surprising....is that we exited by a door near those three very windows where we first gathered. Who knew what lay behind them!
Even though our tour was in French, the young lady also spoke English so we really got a lot out of our time. Highly recommended!
It was still fairly early, so we decided to head back to Bordeaux. And while the train was rather late....there was an interesting conversation I had with a nice gentleman who told me that the "French are very detailed oriented, like the Japanese"....after which I told him, "however, if the trains ran as late in Japan....you know, heads would have rolled....", which got a nice laugh.
Getting back to Bordeaux, we caught the tram and got off near Cours de l’Intendance.
It was for me to "payer le prix promis".....to go ahead and "pay the promised price" to the Missus. I had told Her that She could get whatever scarf She wanted from Hermes whenever we visited France (this, BTW has changed and gotten a bit more pricy). and so, the Missus got the scarf of Her choice....after all, love is priceless, no?
We had decided to finish up the eggs and cheese we had purchased the day before for lunch. But, we had seen some interesting beer in St Emilion....I know, we went to one of the great wine producing areas of France and bought some beer......which isn't even from the area. But the Missus still had another bottle of Her Chateau de Grand Moulin, so why not try these?
The Biere de Ferme Truffle was kind of weird....it had an strange off taste, little foam, kind of weak......fragrance of truffle, but the flavor is very difficult to describe.
The Ambree, on the other hand was very good...nutty and on the sweet (very Belgian) in flavor, I found it to be quite pleasant to drink.
We had a nice short nap, then it was off to dinner. The destination was close by. I'd read about a shop called Saveurs D' Aquitaine, which specialized in small dishes of local ingredients....the highlight being truffle. Since it was just a few blocks from where we were staying, we stopped by before leaving for the Dordogne and made dinner reservations for our last night in Bordeaux. So this was to be our last meal in Bordeaux. On the way to the restaurant, we ran into a woman who was lost, and insisted on me trying to help her....really! It was like some scene from a reality show.....me....trying to help some poor French woman...who kept speaking to me in French. Finally, she got the clue, and started cracking up at the strangeness of the situation.
When we arrived at the restaurant, it was strangely closed. Soon after, a young lady arrived and opened the doors. So here's what happened; the young lady who took our reservations, didn't know that the chef was booked for another event on the day we requested. The folks at the restaurant tried to get in touch with us....but hey, we didn't have pocket wifi this time around and where we were staying didn't give out customer info...appropriately so.
They could have easily closed us out.....but instead, we had a small private dinner for two....albeit, simplified and prepped ahead of time, by a very, very, nice young lady....I could not get a grasp of her name....so she said to call her "Vic"!
And so, while there were quite a bit of truffles present for dinner.....it didn't quite raise our sails....this was a very special meal....
The restaurant could have easily locked us out....it would have been totally acceptable. But instead, they went ahead and prepped us our own little special dinner. Which if not amazing, was still quite special. '"Vic" made the meal, as we got to talk about how life is in Bordeaux, and life in general......she was the highlight......and I'm hoping she is doing well in Bogota, which is where I understood she was headed after graduation.
In a way, this might have been our best meal in Bordeaux. Perhaps one day we'll return and actually have proper meal here.
Saveurs D' Aquitaine 16 Place des Quinconces Bordeaux, France
As we took our final walk around the city....this joyfully unpretentious locale....I wondered, as I stared at the mesmerizing "head" by Jaume Plensa.....
We'd had a great time in Dordogne, but were pretty tired and were happy to be back in Bordeaux. It all seemed familiar to us....we knew the drill, how to catch tram from the Gare Saint Jean. In fact, shades of Saint Jean de Luz, seeing us use the tram ticket machine...folks would ask us....in French how to us the quite easy ticket machine. It was so strange. If there was one person who really didn't look like they belonged, it would be me. Anyway, we ended up helping a couple of folks get their tickets..... We were staying at the same apartments, so getting settled in was a snap. As was getting back to our favorite little place in Bordeaux, Bar a Vin.
We got a simple cheese plate and a glass of wine each.
I had a glass of the 2008 Saint-Julien Chateau Langoa-Barton, Grand Cru......
It was lovely, rich, berry flavors, with not too much tannin.....
Bar a Vin 3 Cours du 30 Juillet Bordeaux, France
The Missus then decided that it was time for a walk, so this time we headed up along the Garonne River, passing some interesting sites on the way.....
The Chartrons neighborhood was once filled with the homes of rich merchants, but eventually fell into disrepair. A large renovation project has turned the Quay des Chatrons into a hip and gentrified neighborhood.....
And further north is Bassin a Flot, once lined with warehouses, dry docks, and other industrial businesses, the place turned into a wonderful urban renovation project....now lined with bars, restaurants, and hip shops.
It was time to decide what to do for dinner. The decision was quite easy. Our favorite meal in Bordeaux was having some cheese and baguette, with a bottle (or two of wine), and just relaxing.
We turned around and headed back to Marche des Grands Hommes and the Carrefour Market.
We picked up some wine and other items and headed out.
On the street on the other side of Marche des Grands Hommes, that lead to Allee de Tourny was a cheese shop that I wanted to check out named Fromagerie Beillevaire.
The guy working here was quite nice and the selection was nice.
It was hard picking just 2-3 cheeses....but in the end we basically just chose three.
Fromagerie Beillevaire 8 Rue Michel Montaigne Bordeaux, France
Looking back, I noticed we'd done quite a bit of walking on this day. No wonder we were pretty tired when we got back to the apartment. This time around, they put us in a huge 2 bedroom unit on the third floor, which was very comfortable.
The kitchen was well equipped.
And because we travel light, the washer/dryer was welcomed. As was the tub where the Missus could soak and relax......
I was really struck by the view out the round windows.......
Dinner was a simple, but satisfying affair.
With the Missus' favorite bottle of 4,9€ (about $5.40/US) bottle of white.
The folks that ran the apartment also left us a nice bottle of white as well.
A very nice gesture.
The Missus had a bath, I had my glass of wine and started a post while looking out onto the street below.
After all of the activities of the previous couple of days; it was nice to just sit back and relax.
There was one reason why we came to Les Eyzies. It was to visit Font de Gaume, the only site in France with "polychrome" (colored) prehistoric cave paintings still open to the public. The catch was, there's no advance tickets sales, you need to show up and wait in line and purchase tickets for one of the "tours". The ticket office opens at 0930, we got there at 7am and there were already people in line for one of the 52 tickets available on this day! Carbon Dioxide is starting to damage the 15,000 year old paintings of 230 animals, so access is limited. We could have gone to Lascaux and visited the Lascaux II, which is a replica of the original, now closed to the public because of carbon dioxide damage....but seeing the real thing was on the Missus' bucket list, so here we were. One of the reasons we stayed where we did was that it was a short 2 kilometer walk up the street.
Folks were sitting around chatting, checking their smartphones, staring off into space, or like me, checking out this very social little guy, who seemed totally unafraid of humans.
Like clockwork, the place opened at 0930. We were about number 14-15 in line. The only English tour of the day was at 10am and we easily got tickets to it! Since it would be starting fairly soon we just hung around for 15 minutes and off we went up the trail.
Of course photos aren't allowed, but let me just say, this well worth 5 times the 7.5 Euro ticket price....that's right, it seems they really care for this place and aren't gouging you. Much like the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, this place left us amazed and truly touched. The artwork is quite amazing, one of the particular paintings, which looked somewhat abstract and 3-d had our guide tell us, "see, even then, they had a Picasso!" And then there was the famous "Reindeer Kissing" painting. This is truly a worthwhile place to visit. I'm not sure how much longer it will be open to the public, but it is truly a treasure.
We left on a high, we decided to walk back into town and grab some lunch. But first, the walk......Les Eyzies is in essence a one street village, near the north end of that walk is the Hotel Cro-Magnon.
This hotel was built in 1868, basically on the site where the first Cro-Magnon skeleton was unearthed. The owner of the hotel was Monsieur Magnon and it was on his land the remains were found. Thus the name, Cro-Magnon....which in simple terms means, "Mr Magnon's Hole".....you gotta love that! Just think, all those guys you called Cro-Magnon.....you were calling them "Mr Magnon's hole......" Which might have been appropriate!
Turning back, it was time to decide on lunch. We were kind of tired...sleeping on what felt like plastic sheeting didn't translate into a good night's sleep and the Missus really enjoyed the salad She had the night before, so Pizzeria La Milanaise just seemed like the easy choice.
So the Missus got Her salad. Meanwhile, I decided to go just go for it and got the Pizza de Campagnade (14,3 €/about $16US), mainly because it was topped with...yes, this is the Dordogne...Foie Gras. My curiosity had gotten the better of me it seems...or maybe not as this was pretty good.
It was a nice thin crust, the edges charred, but not bitter. It was merely topped with foie gras after the pizza baking process, which answered my questions of how foie gras would survive on a pizza. Under that cheese was a nice amount of "magret fume" smoked duck breast which was quite good; the "sauce" was persillade, basically a parsley-herb-garlic-oil-vinegar mixture that really resembled pesto in this case. It was quite rich....as in after the salad, we had one-third of the pizza and the foie gras and took the rest to go. So here's the thing, sixteen bucks here in the Dordogne gets you smoked duck pizza topped with foie gras........
Pizzeria La Milanaise 41 Avenue de la Préhistoire Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil, France
We walked back to our unit, stopping again at the win shop at the end of the street....this time we noticed a photo of the owner; the guy running the register, who looked a bit less dapper than this photo......his "Bond....James Bond" picture.
Getting back to the apartment, it was a bit too early for a nap, so we got into the car and decided to take a drive around the countryside. We came across a village named Campagne.
The Chateau and park was closed, but it was a charming little stop. Wikipedia says the population of this town is 345.
Which of course makes one wonder what life here is like......
Later that evening, while we finished the remnants of the pizza along with a nice bottle of wine, I noticed some movement on the hillside. There were some deer grazing. In some sense it looked so peaceful......in harmony with the surroundings. Perhaps this was what the beautiful Dordogne does to you.....