Eze and the Cote d’Azur

The little village of Eze had been on my bucket list for many years, so I was thrilled when the opportunity to visit it finally came up. Eze is a charming village situated on the hilltop far above the Mediterranean Sea that has spectacular views on a clear day. Eze is about a 20 – 30 minute bus ride from Nice along a narrow, winding road, also with beautiful views. The ride can be a bit frightening at times since the road is perched right on the cliff; just try not to look down. 🙂Once we arrived in the village, we stopped at Le Nid d’Aigle for a delicious lunch. Even though we visited in October, the weather was sunny and warm so we ate outside on the terrace,

After lunch we visited Le Jardin Exotique d’Eze. There is a small admission fee, but I highly recommend visiting. Le jardin est tres beau. I could have sat here forever just looking out at the sea and the rooftops.The garden is quite large and we spent several hours there.

After visiting the garden we slowly worked our way back down the steep hill and strolled through the village and did a little shopping. As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of my favorite things to do when visiting European villages is to wander around and take photos; Eze is a perfect place for that.Just as a side note, if you take the bus from Nice as we did, you will be doing a lot of walking to get to the gardens at the top of the hill, and it is quite steep in places as well.

There are a few hotels in Eze, but we stayed in Nice, which is a lovely place as well. Check in next week when I write about our time there.

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Visiting the Medieval City of Avignon, France

A visit to Avignon is a must for any trip to Provence. It is an ancient, walled city surrounded by medieval stone ramparts that sits by the Rhone River. Once inside, you will find narrow passageways, charming town squares, along with numerous shops and restaurants. Between 1309 – 1377, it was the seat of the Catholic popes, and the massive Palais des Papes is filled with rich history.

The first time my husband and I visited Avignon was in 1998. My husband was sitting in the square near the Palais des Papes working on a sketch, so I visited le palais by myself. I walked in, looked around, lit a few candles and said some prayers. It was October, so there were only a few people there. I had the place mostly to myself.

We returned to Avignon 15 year later, and oh my, how things had changed! An admission fee of 15 euros was charged, once that was paid, visitors were ushered through a metal detector, and there were tour groups everywhere, as well as modern art. In order to exit, one was forced through the gift shop where sippy cups, t-shirts and toys, all with images of le palais were for sale. And, bien sur, there was a wine shop, The Pope’s Wine Cellar, where one could purchase Vin de Palais des Papes, But, it is still an amazing place to visit, and I highly recommend it.

Le Pont d’Avignon is another interesting place to visit and has the designation of a World Heritage site. One can take a walk along the bridge and visit the gate house. It’ s a nice location to take some photos.

The Avignon Carousel in Place de L’Horlage is another pretty site.

There are many other sites to visit in Avignon, but one of my favorite things to do is to wander through the narrow streets, take photos, stop for tea or a glass of wine, and watch the people go by.

Avignon is easy to navigate on foot, so you won’t need a rental car. In fact, it is difficult to get around the inner city in a car, so use Lyft, Uber, or public transportation to get around.

Have you been to Avignon? If so, please leave a comment with you favorite sites to see there.

J’adore la france!

As you may have figured out by now, I love to travel, I was bitten by the travel bug early in life, and the bite has never healed. My favorite country is France. Whenever I am in Europe, and my itinerary doesn’t include France, halfway through my trip, I am conjuring up ways to get there, as soon as possible. I love the people, the food, the country villages and, as many times as I have been there, I have never had a bad experience.

One of my favorite regions is Provence. Yes, I know it is one of the most popular areas in France, but it’s an amazing place to visit. It is still possible to find quiet little villages to explore that are much less popular and crowded than perhaps Gordes or Rousillion, but are equally as quaint, friendly and beautiful.

Robion is one such place. It’s close to Gordes, and many other hillside villages, and it has as much charm as the other popular villages.

We have stayed in several Airbnb homes here, and they are a less expensive than the more popular destinations.

From Robion, with a rental car, it is a quick, and gorgeous drive to many of the other villages in the area. A few of our favorites are Bonnieux and Menerbes.

These are lovely places to wander, take photos, have lunch, and chat with the locals. And, bien sur, Gordes is a must see as well.

The market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a must see. It is a good place to buy souvenirs, produce, scarves, and many other items.

A word of caution, don’t go cheese shopping after tasting wine! We spent 60 euros on cheese! C’est la vie. We were traveling with friends, and split the cost, and enjoyed the cheese in our Airbnb house in the evenings with a glass of wine.

My husband and I usually visit Provence in the autumn when the crowds have disappeared and the weather is a little cooler. I advise renting a car, since many of the most beautiful villages are not easy to get to by bus or train. In addition, be sure to brush up on your high school French, contrary to what you may have heard, the locals appreciate a hearty, “bonjour”, “merci” and sil-vous-plait!”

Bon voyage! Comment below with your experiences in France, sil-vous-plait.

A Trip to Nippara Limestone Cave

While we were in Japan, we enjoyed a day trip to the Nippara Limestone Cave. Our exchange student, and her then boyfriend (now her fiancé) picked us up at our hotel and took us on a scenic drive out of Tokyo, into the mountains. The drive was beautiful and we passed through tiny villages, and saw lush, green forests along the winding, narrow mountain road. I spotted many little, suspension foot bridges that seemed so old that they appeared to have become part of the foliage.

The cave is in a beautiful setting, and it was much cooler in the mountains than it was in Tokyo, which was a nice break from the intense July heat.

The cave, located in the village of Nippara, is the largest limestone cave in the area. It feels quite small when entering, but we wandered around for at least an hour once we got inside since there is so much to see. We found many little nooks and crannies with Buddha statues, and places to worship if one in so inclined.

We took a different route heading back to Tokyo and passed through more villages and also saw a large lake. It was getting foggy at this point, as you can tell by the photos below.

The cave is damp and can be a little cool as well, so be sure to bring a jacket, even if visiting during the intense summer heat.

We were fortunate to be treated to this day out by friends with a car, and since there is so much to see along the way, I recommend renting a car for the day if you plan to go. In addition, it’s best to visit on a weekday since the cave draws large crowds on the weekends.

Have you visited Nippara Cave? If so, please leave a comment and tell me about your time there.

Japan – A few Highlights

Hello and welcome to my blog! I have wanted to write about my travels for many years, but never seemed to find the time; however, the time is right, so here it goes! My goal is to share my travel adventures and photos, and to hopefully get some suggestions and comments from other travelers.

I have been fortunate to have visited many countries around the globe, but for a while I will be focusing on Japan. My husband and I have been there only once, but will be returning later this year, and will also visit Vietnam while we are in Asia. We have not yet been to Vietnam, so please leave a comment if you have suggestions for must see sights there.

Back to Japan; when we arrived at Narita, we were greeted by a young woman who lived with us as an exchange student some years earlier. She was our tour guide for much of our time there. Although it was wonderful to have a tour guide, and to spend time with her, Japan is very easy to navigate, which makes it a good destination for less seasoned travelers.

One of my favorite things about Tokyo are the many gardens and parks where one can find a quiet place to relax away from the intensity of the city. One of my favorites is Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, the oldest garden in Tokyo.

Another highlight was a trip to Odawara Castle.

The view from the top of the castle is spectacular.

The Nezu Museum and Gardens make for a lovely outing. It has a nice collection of pre-modern and East Asian Art, as well as a lovely garden.

I hope you enjoyed this post, please check in again next week when I will write more about our time in Japan.

Remembering Kyoto

It was hot, really hot and humid. July in Kyoto probably wasn’t the best choice, but we made it work.

The Philosophers Path to the Ginkaku-ji pavilion was quiet, rainy but so lovely. It was a hot day, but the rain helped cool us off a bit.

The temple and gardens were stunningly beautiful, and since the weather was lousy, the place was pretty much empty.

Later that day we visited the Kinkakuji temple, the Golden Temple. The weather had cleared, so it was quite crowded with tourists from all over the world. Walking into the temple grounds felt a little bit like entering a Disney theme park due to the many shops, cafes and other offerings. The temple itself, once we arrived was amazing.

We visited other places in Japan, so watch for more posts.

Wishing you happy and adventurous travels,

Tricia