Join us on our new journey to Monaco and Europe! We are so excited, and want to share with you all of our exciting adventures...and maybe some, not so exciting! Thanks for joining us...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ride to Isola...Ski town

The season is over for skiing, but Art and I wanted one more fix of the wonderful WHITE stuff...that we have missed this winter. So, one Sunday, we took a ride to the north to the closest ski resort in France. It's called Isola 2000. The ride was beautiful, with the mountains and valleys...couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. The pictures tell it all!

This was a darling little chateau in the countryside, below the mountain, that was just so picturesque...need to snap a photo of it!

Davis Cup, Allez Monaco!!!

On the 13th, 14th & 15th of April, Monaco hosted Greece in the lower level of Davis Cup Tennis. The weather was not good, so they were forced to play on the only covered court at the Monte Carlo Country Club, with a retractable canvas cover. It was lucky they had it at all, as it was rainy for much of the first two days.

The format is the first day, two singles matches, second day, one doubles match, and the final day, two more singles matches. At the end of the first day, Monaco, or should I say "WE", since I was so routing for the boys in red and white...were one and one. Going into the final day, Monaco had one point and Greece had two. But, Monaco came back to WIN BOTH SINGLES THE FINAL was awesome. Prince Albert was there, CHEERING BOISTEROUSLY....for his team. There was a small crowd, but it was loud and enjoyed the tennis immensely.

I did not take these photos, my friend Valentina's brother did, and I say thank you to him, as they are just great....enjoy!

That's our Prince with the ball cap on, his cousin to his right and fiance to his left. Art got a handshake from the Prince on the final day of the matches. The view from the courts...just amazing! Hard to keep your concentration....for me, at least!


Art's Mom Visits

We had a great visit with Art's Mom...she came on the 18th of April and stayed through the 28th. She broke in our new Aerobed...worked GREAT....Mom enjoyed our US Television...which is great once you've spent five minutes watching FRENCH TELEVISION!!! Doesn't take long to appreciate a bit of home! We ate great, enjoyed lots of drives, and went to the Master's Series Tennis tournament of Monte Carlo several times. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold. And the tennis was FABULOUS...Nadal won both the singles and with Robredo, the doubles. The top US players didn't show, but Sam Querrey is one to watch, he made it to the third round, and we got to see him beat Moya from Spain...which was a great match. The Bryan brothers, always so exciting to watch, didn't have their game on...first time on red clay this season, so they were probably just "adjusting"...but, I was routing with all my might for them!
We took Mom to Gourdon, to the Nest of the French it's Le Nid d' Aigle...a great restaurant with a view that is to die is a photo of her and her son...wonderful!

The tennis at Monte Carlo Country Club is quite a happening...the "stars" come out in all their finest. Prince Albert and his sisters, Tommy Hilfiger and some arm candy, Roger Moore was there (although I didn't get to see him) and more....The views from the stadium and the club are just about the best in the world...the Med is only a hundred feet, hang gliders, helicopters...all the norm here. Here is Nadal and Robredo, the winners, and if you look at the photos to the left, Federer...this one's for you, Terri!!!

Mom was a trooper, up and down stairs, all around the block and back a few times to the tennis. We rewarded her with some extra special Croissants from the local patisserie...some days they were still WARM...amazing! We had some lazy days, and some busy days, but all were quite enjoyable.

We had a fun day in San Remo, at the market...I bet you didn't think I'd ever go back after my car was confiscated there, but Art drove, parked and cared for the well being of the auto...thank goodness. She was able to buy some great pashmina's, some costume jewelry, and just savor the smells of the market place...with the pesto sauces, wonderful cheeses, and was even able to get some home made orange marmelade to carry back to Jack....Lunch was at a great seafood cafe' near the water's edge, called Da Vittorio. We were joined by some friends, Valentina and Claudio...the food was just wonderful. Couldn't have asked for a better day!

On the last day Mom was here, we were all invited to a lovely BBQ in the French Countryside, Roquefort les Pins, at David and Kylie's home, with their son, Arne. He was the great are a few photos of the little tyke, into the wine bottle...Mom enjoyed watching his antics...too funny!

Camden, Six Months Old...

After the wedding, Art flew home to Monaco and I headed onto Blairsville, Georgia, to visit with my family. I got to spend lots of time with Camden, our grandson, who turned six months on the 10th of April, I left just a few days short of that special celebration, but I got in lots of loving before I headed are a few pictures of the happy little guy, who is now crawling, babbling and just about sitting up by himself...what a delight to be around!

Who me?!
Oh my, Dirty Boy! Gotta love it!

A Trip to NYC, and the Wedding of Mariclare & Mo

On the 25th of March, Art and I headed to NYC for a few days of work, shopping, walking and good food. We were accompanied by our dear friend, Deb Dove, who was moving her "girls" with her to the States, Oscar and was a lot of THINGS to get to the airport, with the kennels and such, but the girls were wonderful, the airline caring, and the three of us more worried than anyone....amazing, when we walked onto the aircraft, Deb was stopped by the stewardess and she was given a boarding pass that said, your dogs are safely onboard...what a wonderful relief that was...If you look below in an earlier blog, you will see these darling girls in one kennel, all cozy and comfortable...although, they did travel in two kennels!!! Leon was on the other end, the girls "Daddy", to hug Mom and to give the girls some needed loving!

Art and I hit the Oyster Bar just a little while after unpacking at the Grand Hyatt, above Grand Central Station. It was great to be in this bustling station, and to hear lots of that old New York accent! I was thrilled, and AT HOME!!! We ate Oysters and New England Clam Chowder...PERFECT!

The next day, Art took me on a little shopping spree, and he was a champ. Earning Euros is quite a joy when shopping in the US...first of all, the prices are the BEST in the US and secondly, the EURO's value is "quite" good right now to the dollar...I have no worries that our dollar will come back stronger than spirit for the US is eternal! We hit a few of my favorite spots and found some great buys. I was in need of a dress for the wedding, so this was our motive, of course, there were other things that just had to come along with us back to Monaco!
Art had a few meetings and I did some great walking. The weather was great, and Fifth Avenue is always a treat to walk. We had a few bagels, great coffee and all our favorites of NYC.

Art and I took a walk on the day we had to head out to the island...past Rockefeller Plaza, always a favorite, over to NBC's Today show Studios, and on to Saks Fifth Avenue. Here are a few pictures...and even one of a sign...IN FRENCH, in my beloved NYC...saying WELCOME...UGH...I was so ready for just plain ENGLISH...but it was charming...and I loved it!

We then headed out to some family time...for a CELEBRATION of the wedding of Mariclare & Mo...and it was quite a great time for all. The wedding was beautiful, the families came together with great joy and love, and the reception was a blast...dancing and partying, singing and more dancing...I think now I know how Mariclare and Mo got their start...on a dance floor!!! the bar!!! LOL....and after the reception, the in crowd proceeded to a bar just down the street for more fun!

Here is the gorgeous couple saying their I Do's....

On to Florence, On Easter Sunday

On Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, Bill & Maureen headed up to the Saint Charles Cathedral in Monaco, a lovely, neighborhood Catholic church, and attended the mass, ALL IN FRENCH....they loved it. The women were out in their finest, hats and all! The French women do love to dress, and all have an Easter Bonnet tucked away just for this occasion.

By 10 AM Art, myself and the Byrne's were on our way to Florence...driving East into Italy, along the coast, past Genoa and then South towards Florence. The views are spectacular, with the sea to the West and the Alpes Maritime to the East...some of the mountains were still covered in snow. Just a glorious drive...

Unfortunately, with ever kilometer we travelled, the day grew darker and more stormy. We carried on with our plans, stopping only once for some petrol at an Auto mart on the highway...if you've never been in one of these Auto stop! It's can get a cup of java, but it's an expresso or a cappuccino, and it's in a proper cup, not to GO!!! as in America! You stand and take a leisurely break from driving. Others have a beer or wine...and we just prayed that none of THEM were driving...large families were gathering for their lunch breaks here, some were stocking up on chocolates and biscuits for the drive...the shop was packed, and had a festive atmosphere!
We got to Florence around 2ish, and quickly set out to find our hotel, the Grand Cavour...thank goodness we had Flo, our GPS...she is the best, leading us down these dark streets right to the door of the Inn....After unpacking, and valeting the car, we set out for a bite to eat, which isn't easy since the lunch time is from 12:30 to 3 in Florence, and we were almost into the 3:30 hour. But, we did find a cute pub that offered us a small menu, a few beers and a tall bottle of San Pelligrino...a staple in Italy, gassed water!

After our refreshments, we took our umbrellas, raincoats, and not enough warm clothing, and set out to see the sights in the POURING RAIN!!! It was nasty! But, the sights overtook the rain. We headed to the Academy Galleria, where my sister, Pat, insisted I see...and yes, she knew what she was talking about. After a near hour line, we walked in the door to see Michaelangelo's "DAVID" all his glory! How magnificent a sculpture it is, and perfect, just perfect. The museum was loaded with American College kids on Spring Break...families travelling, most speaking English as well...and I had to actually listen to the "workers" there to make sure I really was in Italy, and not back home in the States. This was the most English I have heard over here in the 10 months we've been here!

After touring this wonderful Academy of the Arts, we headed next for the Duoma...and Cathedral, none of which was open any longer today. We did get to see these sites from the outside, and after a few hours in the rain, we headed back to our hotel to WARM UP before heading out again for dinner.

Now, dining in Florence is a GRAND experience in itself...IF you can find the restaurant in the dark streets...with the rain, it made it almost impossible. But, we perservered and found it, to our delight! This wonderfully small, and quaint restaurant had white plaster walls, with beamed ceilings of dark wood, and simple wooden tables and chairs. The setting was quaint and very old it should when you are in Florence....I will get the name and let you all know as soon as I do. Our meal and wine selections were supurb, with lamb, fresh fish, and great vegetables...followed up by wonderful desserts.

Again, we walked our way home, through the maze of cobblestone streets and dimly lit roads...but the Grand Cavour awaited us.

The following morning, we headed out for some more sight seeing, in the cold damp weather of Florence. The rain was holding up enough to make it more presentable, but the air was crisp and damp. We went to the museum first...Uffizi Gallery, which is a very large building that was designed in the 1500's, and houses art from the 1300 - 1800's, with the most famous being from the Italian Renaissance, and several Dutch, German and Flemish and even French Artists. It was amazing, spacious, and went on and on with bigger and better pieces. Magnificent, but mostly unknown to the four of us.

No cameras were allowed to be used inside the Academia Gallery, but, outside of the Uffizi, there were a few replicas of the plasters and statues that were inside the Academia, and I snapped a picture of the replica of David and a few others in the same shot...not as grande as the original David, but still so wonderful...And, the flowers on the same square were just beautiful in it's Easter Finery!

From here, we decided to get online, which was wrapped all the way around the building, to The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the cathedral church (Duomo). This is a spectacular cathedral, which has become a tourist's mecca, due to the climb to the top of the dome to see all of Florence and the hills into Tuscany from the top. We first went into the Cathedral, and oh my, what a beautifully adorned place it was. The HIGHEST of ceilings, with gorgeous paintings on them, gorgeous statues, marble works on the pillars and wood trim that was darkened with age. We did go down to the catacombs below, and saw the original floor of the first cathedral on this site, pre 1300's, and was redesigned twice, with the dome being finally added in the mid 1400's. Just an amazingly large structure, and to think, no cranes, no newage technology to get it up there....makes it a wonder of this city. We later began our climb up to the top of the dome, to see the view, and Art had to sneak back down, a bit of a small and confined staircase...but Bill, Maureen and myself continued our ascent. It was a long and trying climb, but we made it. The views were spectacular, and we are ever so glad we did it, until we tried to decend. The line to go down was out of control, with no order, and we were UP THERE for a good hour before we were able to start down. Art thought we were lost forever up there! I will say, the dome close up, painted with all of heavens finest, was spectacular....glad we went.

One day, knowing it's only a little more than four hours to drive to, we will revisit this city...we had to leave our friends mid day on Monday to return to we were heading back to NYC for the wedding of Art's niece, Mariclare and her soon to be husband, Mo Hall...

Good bye for now, Florence, and Maureen and Bill, but we WILL SEE YOU ALL AGAIN!!!! Soon! In better weather, we do hope!

A Visit from Good Friends

On March 21st, our dear friends, Maureen & Bill Byrne, from Jacksonville, joined us for a few days in Monaco...they arrived on Friday after a usual all night flight from the US, and headed to The of the finest hotels on Casino Square in Monte Carlo. After freshening up, they were ready for their walk around our wonderful city/country.

We set out for a walk around Casino Square, with the most beautiful tulips for the Easter Holiday. The day was crisp and sunny, making our walk ever so lovely.

We headed out towards the port, doing a little window shopping at Chanel, Celine, Louis Vuitton, and more. Zara was a hit, with some very chic, yet affordable fashion, for their girls. We walked passed The Hermitage and onto the corner by Hotel Paris...on to the Port. The boats were glistening in the harbour. A few tour buses have begin to return, but no cruise ship sightings yet. They are soon to be plentiful, again.

We went to have lunch at a wonderful French style bistro, Quai des Artists...which sits right on the Port du Hercules. This is one of our favorite restaurants in Monaco. We dined on their wonderful Fish Soup, which is baked in a crock with a pastry pillow top...One of our favorites, and now, Maureen & Bill's, too. Of course, you cannot go to this bistro without enjoying at least a dozen fresh and sweet. A bottle of Rose' wine and a few beers, and the afternoon just melted away!

Of course, in Monte Carlo style, there is that wonderful walk home. We took a bit of a different route, walking around the Casino and taking in the wonderful gardens as well. Easter in Monte Carlo is just a sight with the flowers blooming everywhere.

The next day, we set out for a wonderful lunch at another one of our favorite spots, La Pinede, on the beach in Cap d'ail. This casual restaurant sits right on the rocks just meters from the Mediterranean Sea. Deb Dove, my dear friend from the US, who taught me so much about this wonderful country, was in town to retrieve her beloved girls, the labs! So she and the girls joined us here. Unfortunately, never a dull moment, Deb's car had a minor breakdown, and Art was off to rescue her...all worked out, timing was perfect, and the day began with another bottle of Rose' wine, with the sun shining off the water. Hats were provided by the restaurant, to protect us from that Cote d'Azur sunshine...

This wonderful lunch, with the freshest of fish, crispiest calamari and wonderful salads made our afternoon magnificent! The sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks, sea birds flying all about, and others enjoying their lunch filling the air with laughter and joy, make for a great experience on this piece of the Riviera!

After this lunch, we took a ride up to the town of Eze, which is just two towns to the west of Monaco. The medieval village sits high above the sea, with vistas that are amazing of Cap Ferrat and Cap St. Jean. There are a few lovely Bed & Breakfasts in this village, one being an elegant Inn where we climbed to in order to have a glass of champagne on their balcony. It's called the Chateau de la Chevre d'Or....just a beautiful place.

Eze has stone walks with steps that lead up in several directions, enhancing the beauty of the flower pots and storefronts, with doors of wood that are only as tall as a 12 year old would be. Ducking is a must entering these little boutiques, with jewels, soaps and perfumes from the region.

The evening ended with a very casual dinner of salmon and provence sausages at our flat, resting up for our trip to Florence the next morning. Bill and Maureen ventured out to the Vista Palace Hotel for a glass of wine at a vantage point like no other on an evening in Monaco. I do believe they will be back!!!