I'm not ready to completely ditch my life and take off to a foreign country as of this minute, but as I have a huge imagination I got to thinking what if I could. What would I do? Where would I go? I like wine. I like beer. I like hard liquor, even though sometimes it doesn't necessarily like me.. ha ha. So I guess I would go on a solo gal vacation, but since the world has so much cool stuff to offer how can this be a bad thing?
First stop, Tuscany. Home of the Chianti region, that lovely deep and mellow red wine synonymous with Italian dinners everywhere. I would take a few days to stay at the Valdonica Winery, which has accommodations. In the mornings I can wake up to sweeping views of the vineyards and Tuscan countryside. Valdonica offers a simple Tuscan breakfast of fruit, some cheeses and juice. After this I would grab some goodies and drive into the countryside looking for the perfect place to picnic and lay among the acres of sunflowers that grow all over this area. I can already smell the rich soil, and taste the wine in my glass, as I sit in the warm sun eating enormous green olives, some simple peasant bread, peccorino and maybe a little proscuitto. Afterward I would drive to one of the many medieval towns that still dot the hills all over Tuscany and Umbria, and do a little shopping while indulging in some cioccolato fondante e fragola gelato. Only need the cuppa piccola, this stuff is rich and you only need a little bit.
|tasty Greek lunch|
This photo of The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor
That Guinness gives me a craving for more beer, so off I go to Belgium, home of the very potent Chimay which is brewed by Trappist monks. In fact, the Belgian abbey brews are so particular, that there is an actual certification for them to make sure commercial brews are not classifying themselves as religiously associated for marketing purposes. Beer made in Belgium goes back all the way to the first crusades so this would make them experts in their field. I sign up with BelgianBeerMe.com for their Lonely Monks Trappist Beer Tour of Belgium and the Netherlands. I includes visits to the original 7 Trappist monasteries for tastings along with a few others, and a visit to the WWI museum at Flanders Field. I like this bit of history of how the monks not only perfected the recipes as a means to trade and raise money to support themselves, but also how much detail goes into making beer. It sort of puts our mass made American beers into perspective. After nine days of tasting so many kinds of Belgian beer, traipsing about the Flemish countryside, and hearing Dutch, French and Flemish being spoken, I'm ready for the next leg of the Cry in My Cheerios tour.
|Chimay Monastery Brewery, Belgium|
That's right folks, we are off to Bavaria. Home of the largest and longest running annual beer drinking party in the world, where legions of people go to try their hand at drinking an entire liter of Bavarian beer. I'm not that nuts. I'll do a half liter at a time, thank you very much. Having just had my half-mass of German wheat beer while sitting in Marienplatz in Munich in September, I think I'm ready for a repeat. While I sit with my weisswurst (that's veal for you non-German sausage eating people), and pretzel with sweet mustard, listening to the drinkers sing along in the Hofbrau, I'm reminded of how much fun just having a beer is. Not getting completely ripped, just enjoying the ambiance of a happy crowd. I happen to already be a big fan of unfiltered German wheat beer (hefeweissen, served with orange NOT lemon wedge), so this is right up my alley. I'm tried from all the singing and drinking so I decide to walk around Munich and check out the scenery, and the layout of the streets which you know has to go back hundreds of years. There is an archaeological dig going on in the middle of town, where they are unearthing the remains of part of the town that dates back to the 10th century. I head over to my hotel, the Bayerischer Hof, and indulge in a little spa pampering to relax my traveling away. Since there are plenty of places to eat in this part of the city, I head over to Spatenhaus which is right across the road from the Opera House. Here I can have uniquely German specialties such as sauerbraten and scheinschnitzel. YUM! And more beer. Hello, its the Spatenhaus. What do you think they make there? Spaten beer!
This photo of Spatenhaus is courtesy of TripAdvisor
After a couple of weeks running around Europe, I'm ready to come home. The adventure of being in so many different places and around so many different people has given me a new perspective and relaxed me. Of course, having some drinks every day has certainly lightened my mood! This little virtual trip has made me feel better already, and get psyched for my Spain trip this summer. I'll have to read up on my Spanish wines before I get there.