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It’s not quite Friday but I dug out this “Flashback Friday” from a few years ago. The recent snowfall in Virginia made me remember a magical snowy day in France many years ago…

Beaune and the Hotel Le Cep definitely rank as one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever spent Thanksgiving:

Beaune, Thanksgiving dinner

As we drove from Germany towards the Burgundy region in France,  it started to snow and by the time we arrived in Beaune, it was blanketed with a fresh dusting of snow ~ it looked magical. We splurged and stayed at the Hotel Le Cep which the Lonely Planet guidebook referred to asQuite simply, this is one of France’s very finest hotels.”  How could we pass up staying there after that kind of recommendation!?! We weren’t disappointed ~ the hotel was fabulous and the staff wonderful.

Originally, we were suppose to visit in early November but the riots were happening all over France and we didn’t want to take a chance since we were traveling with our young daughter. When I called to reschedule our reservations, the hotel was so accommodating and understanding about why we were changing our dates. Upon our arrival, we found they had upgraded us to one of their largest suites. It’s a great joy for me when I find I’ve been upgraded at a hotel.

Beaune, Logan at Hostel Dieu

Beaune, hostel-dien

One of the most interesting sights in Beaune is the Gothic Hotel-Dieu which was founded in 1443 and was considered a “celebrity rated” charity hospital. For its time, I’m sure it was state of the art but those blood letting instruments and the closeness of the hospital beds made me a little queasy.  There was also an 18th century pharmacy with flasks once filled with things such as vomit-nut powder.

Beaune, Wine Caves

Beaune in the caves

After touring the hospital, we made our way to the Marché aux Vins wine cellars and went underground to the dusty wine-bottle lined caves. We had a personal tour guide and, after a history lesson on the winery and about the region, we were given a flat, metal, shiny cup to taste the wines we encountered as we self-toured the caves. Marché aux Vins, established in 1239, is one of the larger wine cellars in Beaune and the caves are lined with thousands of wine  bottles.  As we navigated through the cave, we stopped at each of the 13 candle-lit wine barrels to taste the wine which was a open bottle ~ we could’ve drank the entire bottle if we wanted.  I love the whole French attitude towards wine, food and living life in beauty.

Beaune logan on carousel
Enjoying the carousel

Beaune Saturday market
Saturday Market

Beaune walking around
Walking around Beaune

Beaune, Logan guidebook
Our guide

Beaune Fireplace

Enjoying the cozy, warm fireplace which was so welcomed after our cold walks around town.

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One of my New Years resolutions is to dust off my Flashback Friday updates.  There was a lot of dust to clear since I haven’t done a Flashback Friday since 2009!  As I was catching up with friends currently living in Germany, we discussed all the wonderful places to visit in Europe. I highly recommended they visit Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Lázně which are two Czech spa towns within an easy drive from Grafenwöhr. Mariánské Lázně is only a 40 minute drive. Both towns are also a wonderful day trip from Prague.  Please forgive my photos in this post, they’re from the early 2000s and before I got a digital camera. All these photos are (gasp) scanned.

Mariánské Lázně (Marienbad) is truly beautiful any time of year but springtime is my favorite. There are several parks with pretty flowers which I enjoyed strolling through and letting Logan run around. The main Colonnade is a cast iron construction with a wooden ceiling and a Singing Fountain. From April to October, the fountain dances every odd hour beginning at 7am. There’s a famous composition playing during the display. If you happen to be there during the evening, lights are added enhancing the water show.  Click here for a Singing Fountain schedule of music compositions.

In these spa towns, there are mineral springs, containing carbon dioxide and mineral salts. Drinking the mineral water is said to have medicinal effects ~ people have been partaking in mineral springs water since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  Personally I couldn’t get past my one sip of the water.  But I did enjoy the spa wafers ~ be sure to try them while you’re there.

“Spa treatments” didn’t start in Central Europe until 18th Century and Mariánské Lázně is one of the youngest of spa towns.  The town celebrated it’s 200 year anniversary in 2008.

Whenever we would visit, we enjoyed all the various fountains around town:

Marianske Lanske Logan at Fountain in Marienbad

Karlovy Lázně (Karlsbad) is the more famous spa town, as well as the largest, in the Czech Republic. It’s a charming town which lies in a lush green valley where the River Teplá and River Ohře (Eger) converge. Meandering through town is the best way to see it. The town has impressive Colonnades which you can walk through and drink the healing waters.The earliest mention of the treatments in Karlovy Lázně comes when, at the end of the 14th century, Charles IV submersed his ill legs in one of the mineral springs.

Colonnade

Sampling the mineral water

Sampling the mineral water

Thermal Hotel

Logan walking along the River Teplá

John and Logan along river Teplá

The view from the top of the hill is impressive not to mention the fun of riding the funicular train to the top:

View of Karlovy Vary

View of Karlovy Vary

Top of venicular Venicular

Be sure to have lunch or dinner at the GrandHotel Pupp.  It’s very elegant with fantastic customer service.  The hotel was a location site in the movie Last Holiday and it also appears in the James Bond film Casino Royale  (the one with yummy Daniel Craig) although in the film it’s referred to as Hotel Splendide in Montenegro.

Granhotel Pupp

We took most of our visitors to Karlovy Lázně and got a photo of them on the steps near the center of town.

Jamie, Tricia, and Kayla on the steps

On the steps KV Frank and Phyllis

On the Steps KV Karla and Scott

On the steps in Karlovy Vary  John and PattiBetty and John on the steps

Makes me smile just remembering those wonderful visits!

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All this talk about the 18 Guantanamo detainees moving to Palau certainly has me thinking about our wonderful trip we enjoyed back in Feb 2007. Ah, true paradise…

Kayaking through the Rock Islands, Palau

Swimming with the Dolphin

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It hurts to look at this photo ~ I’m longing to feel warm through and through! It’d be so nice to take a dip in the Caribbean sea and then lay in the sand. Ahhhh…the British Virgin Islands are a beach bum’s paradise on earth. And it’s so close  ~ a four hour flight!

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Ahh, it would be so nice to drive to the beach and spend a few hours chatting with my friend, Yukari. She’s smart, witty and never failed to bring a smile.

Too bad she and the beach are about 7,998 miles away.

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Two years ago, we were spending the President’s Day weekend in Palau. From Guam, Palau is only a two hour flight and had we stayed longer than one year in Guam, I would have gone back to Palau as often as possible. For a beachbum, it IS paradise.

On our way to the Rock Islands:

Favorite Girl at the “Milky Way”:

Touring the Rock Islands:

All last week, I searched Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz for a cheap getaway to Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Orlando and Charleston but all flights/hotels were too much for just a couple days. So instead, we’re embracing the winter and heading further north. We’ll be stimulating the Canadian economy this weekend…

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All my Flashback Fridays are going to be “beach” flashbacks until I feel warm again 😉 Favorite Girl and I really enjoyed kayaking off of Cocos Island in Guam and I’ve often thought a kayak trip to Baja Mexico would be a fun family trip. But then again, a return visit to Guam would be even better.

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