Day 1 September 16, 2021

Lake Bled, Slovenia

First a bit about Slovenia. Slovenia was one of the six republics or areas that made up Yugoslavia back when we studied geography. In the early 90’s each became independent, with Slovenia ranking number 5 of the 6 in terms of area. Slovenia is located in the Julian Alps, featuring biking, hiking, skiing, and other outdoor adventures.  The national flag of Slovenia features the tallest three peaks. The island in Lake Bled pictured above originally was the site of a temple to a pagan goddess of fertility and love. Today it is the site of a Roman Catholic Church, accessible only by boat. The stairway in the photo, features 99 steps to reach the church. Folklore dictates that when a couple marries, the groom carries his bride up the 99 steps to strengthen their marriage and to grant them a lifetime together.  There is a Wishing Bell in the church, donated by a philanthropist, who wanted visitors to have the opportunity to ring the bell and be granted their wish. The boats in the photo are plenta powered by oarsmen, since Lake Bled does not permit powered boats. The boats are built by locals, the originals date back to the 1590’s.
Today, despite cloudy, overcast conditions, we headed off to Bohinj Lake. Lake Bohinj is 4.2 km (2.6 mi) long and 1 km (0.62 mi) at its maximum width. It is a glacial lake dammed by a moraine (A moraine is any accumulation of unconsolidated debris (regolith and rock), sometimes referred to as glacial till, that occurs in both currently and formerly glaciated regions, and that has been previously carried along by a glacier or ice sheet). The largest of the streams that flow into the lake, the Savica (‘little Sava’), is fed from Črno jezero (Black Lake), the lowest-lying lake in the Triglav Lakes Valley. The outflow at the eastern end is the Jezernica creek which merges with the Mostnica to form the Sava Bohinjka, which in turn becomes the larger Sava River at the confluence with the Sava Dolinka. Belsazar Hacquet discovered in the 18th century, much more water leaves Lake Bohinj than enters it, which led to the discovery of subterranean sources of water. At its deepest the lake is 40 meters.The clear waters are the habitat of brown trout, burbot, European chub, common minnow and Arctic char, eight genera of molluscs, as well as of numerous algae species. It is a popular day trippers’ destination for swimming and other water sports. On the shore is a statue of the legendary Goldhorn (Zlatorog) chamois, whose story was immortalized by the poet Rudolf Baumbach. In Slovene folklore, Goldhorn or Goldenhorn (SloveneZlatorog) is a legendary white chamois buck, or alternatively, an Alpine ibex, that had his realm in the heights of Mount Triglav.
We saw many alpine hay drying sheds along our trip.  They are protected as local heritage now and formerly used to hang hay to dry. Of course, today the farmers use modern technology to make hay bales.
We took a cable car up Vogel Mountain, but the spectacular views were hidden by cloud cover. At the restaurant at the top, we tasted a Zlatorog beer, named for the Goldenhorn. It was fairly hoppy but tasted pretty good.Then it was off to Bled Castle! Bled Castle (SloveneBlejski grad) is a medieval castle built on a precipice above the city of Bled in Slovenia, overlooking Lake Bled.  It is visible from our balcony at the hotel. It is the oldest Slovenian castle and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia. Nowadays, the castle is essentially a historical museum with a collection that represents the lake’s history.The castle was first mentioned in a 22 May 1011 deed granting The Bishops of Brixen ownership issued by Emperor Henry II and it was their residence for eight centuries. Then  it passed to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1278.The oldest part of the castle is the Romanesque tower. In the Middle Ages more towers were built and the fortifications were improved. Other buildings were constructed in the Renaissance style.  The buildings are arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. There is a chapel in the upper courtyard, which was built in the 16th century and renovated around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes. The castle also has a drawbridge over a moat. While we were there, they were setting up for a wedding. As we were leaving the guests arrived, and were greeted by the Duke and Duchess (enactors in costume) who invited them to climb the staircase to the upper courtyard to witness the wedding.
We returned to the hotel, took a meandering stroll to the lake and relished in the afternoon sunshine.
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Flight Information and arrival Day – 1/2

We’re off!

We had arranged to have our “required” PCR test on Tuesday September 14 at the CVS in Williamsburg. They had assured us that they have a 1 or 2 day turn around of test results. We left New Point with no results, just a notice that our test results are pending. So we left anyway on Thursday, September 16, hoping we would receive a negative test result before we needed to show it. Fingers crossed!

Watching the rain from the Lufthansa Lounge at Dulles

We made it to Dulles (IAD) on time and without any issues. It was starting to sprinkle as we taxied out onto the runway in Richmond. Our flight from IAD to Frankfort had a delayed departure from 5:55 pm until 7:00. Since we are flying business class, we get to take advantage of the layover at Dulles in the Lufthansa Lounge.  So how bad can it be?

View from our balcony. at. Lake Bled

Therefore we were booked on a later flight from ,  to   so we arrived in Slovenia at 1:30 pm, transferred to Lake Bled and our resort Rikli Balance Hotel, with a balcony overlooking Lake Bled.

So we spent the last 18 hours traveling or waiting in the airports. By the way, our negative results for our PCR tests came through from CVS early Friday morning (about 2:30 AM).  And, when we arrived in Slovenia, the immigration police only asked for our passports and proof of Covid vaccinations. Go figure!

We have a group dinner tonight but not until 6:45 pm. We’re staying awake to try to adjust our bodies’ internal clocks! Naturally, we’ll shower and change out of travel clothes. before we join the others.

Sitting Area in our room

Pretty modern, don’t you think?



n Bled, people come for the landscape and stay for the cake. Cream cake (kremna rezina) to be specific. Lighter-than-air puff pastry floats atop vanilla whipped cream and a custard pastry cream, each slice trimmed to a perfect square. Dating back to the days of the Hapsburgs, there are versions all over the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the Slovenians argue theirs is fluffier and creamer than their neighbors. Even more, they say the perfect renditions are found only in Bled. When the nation granted the dish protected origin status, it agreed; the designation only applies to kremna rezina made in this scenic city (where it was first made by Chef Ištvan Lukačević). Happily for you, to make it at home the way they do on the shores of Lake Bled, you need fewer than a dozen ingredients.

Dinner tonight was at the Kavarna Park which. is a restaurant and cafe,  well. know for their homemade ice cream and Slovenien Lake Bled Cream Cake or Kremna  rezina affectionally know as Kremsnita!  Both Pat and I. chose the fish for the. evening Pat. because she. prefers fish and I. was being good.  In hindsight I should. have chosen the meat to  get to try both. However, fellow dinner were willing to share especially towards the end when all were stuffed. We began the meal with a salmon paté. with a salad,

Salmon Paté

the next course was a tempura style shrimp on a risotto of faro which was followed by the entrée for Mediterranean Sea bass, with

Shrimped Tempura style

carrots, turnips and  a vegetable risotto. The dearest was a

Mediterranean Sea bass with risotto

raspberry chocolate mousse with house made vanilla. ice cream which was excellent.

dessert of chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream

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Paris 2020 Epilogue

Today is September 16th 2020 and we have been back from Paris for 7 months and as the US is set to exceed 200 thousand deaths from the China Virus life goes on.

Yes were wearing masks more often, especially when shopping whether for groceries or auto parts, here in Mathews we still have less than 25 cases.  So the rick is low, we are lucky to live in a rural area and have fewer people who congregate in large crowds and when we do most are very careful.

No one knows where we are headed and whether there will be a vaccine available in the near future and more importantly it will be effective.

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Paris Day 14 (2020) The Finally!

Well it’s Sunday here in Paris the first day following the French Prime Ministers order to close all non-essential services. Sunday is normally a day for families to be out and about maybe a walk in the park with the children or grandchildren but not this Sunday.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe ordered most shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities to close starting at midnight on Saturday and told people to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Philippe was speaking at a news conference after the public health authority said 91 people had died in France and almost 4,500 were now infected.

“I have decided to close all non-essential locations, notably cafés, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs and shops,” he said. “We must absolutely limit our movements.”

Exceptions to the ban will include grocery stores, pharmacies and petrol stations.

We were out and about this morning and Paris was looking more like a ghost town than Paris.  Fortunately the Bolangerie on Avenue Mozart was open and were were able purchase bread and Croissant aux Almonds.

Were hoping to find a renegade cafe or Bistro open for dinner but we will have to settle for cleaning out the refrigerator, we have bread, cheese, terrine and salad, we also have eggs etc so our last meal will not be exquisite but filling.

We depart for the airport at 0515 tomorrow morning flying through JFK and then on to Richmond.

Were were briefed by Paula and Martin who returned Saturday to JFK here was their experience:

This was our experience. Yours may be different. They seem to be learning as they go.

We got up to get off the plane but were told to sit back down because we had to fill out a form that needed to be filled out before we could deplane per the CDC. I am assuming they did not learn about this until they opened the doors and were told about it. So have a pen ready.

As soon as we each filled it out we could get back in line to get off the plane. Fill out the form ASAP so you can get in line because at the end of the Jetway were two CDC reps who were taking everyone’s form, temperature and asking questions about where you have been and how you’ve felt the last 14 days. So that took a while even though the plane was half empty.

They strongly suggested to self quarantine for 14 days if able, which we plan on doing even though we feel fine, just want to make sure all is good with all the traveling.

They gave us a card on corona virus information. KEEP THE CARD, at least until you go through customs.

When Paula and I went through global entry, I got an X on mine so I had to go through a side door in the middle of the Kiosks before getting in line that was not marked properly. Paula happened to ask the guy in the room if this is where we went for the X. It was, and the guy scanned my passport and asked if I had the card and asked me to show it to him.

Once in line we saw people sent back  to that side door because they had an X on their paper. One gentleman with an X did not have his card so Paula gave him hers and then once we got up to the customs guy he cleared me right away, but asked Paula some questions and for her card and almost sent her back but let her pass because I had mine.

After that it was the usual, pick up your luggage and then in your case, re-check it in for your next flight.

Only Time will tell! As a note – this is our shortest stay in Paris in a very long time.


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Paris Day 13 (2020)

Good morning Paris!

Well the natives are restless so we decided to cal the airline to investigate our options as more and more news come out about cancelling flights back to the US in the next week. This all being the results of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the News media.  ARG!

So as you can imagine we are on hold listening to music and being told how important our business is the American Airlines.

Note; There is still plenty of toilet paper on the shelves here in Paris!

The plan for today is to head out to the Puces de Vanves Fea market at Avenue de la Porte de Vanves and rue Marc Sangnier (Arr 14) Metro: Porte de Vanves. Hopefully we will get by the President Wilson Market and get some fish for dinner and resupply on fruit and vegetables.

Well our best played plans were blown all to hell so we decided to shop locally and cook dinner in tonight.  We had a nice dinner of Cod Fish, cauliflower mashed potatoes and asparagus, a couple of glass of a nice Cote du  Rhône and a shared dessert of mille-feuille and an Operá

New this evening said France is closing all restaurants, shop etc so I back on the phone with the GOFARREWARDS folks bring to make arrangement to fly home.



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Paris Day 12 (2020)

Tonight we have tickets to a concert at Le Sainte Chappele at 1800. The concert is VIVALDI / Les Quatre saisons – ALBINONI / adagio – PACHELBEL / Canon.  The concert series runs from March 13th to December 31st and is presented by Euromusic Productions.


We took the opportunity with the sunny day to walk over to the Jardins du Ranelegh and sit in the sun and watch the children play un aware on the pandemic around them.

After dinner we walked across the river for a stroll through the Latin Quarter and some evening photos. We then headed back to the 16th for dinner of pizza at Alba on Avenue Mozart.


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Guide to the 63 Bus in Paris - Amazing for Sight-seeing!Line 63 runs from Porte de la Muette to Gare de Lyon. The line is packed with attractions because it runs almost entirely along the left bank of the Seine, cutting through the heart of the city from east to west. Below I have outlined some of the must-see places that can be easily accessed via this route with minimal walking from each stop.  We’ll start off this bus tour at the nearest stop, Bosquet-Rapp, located on the corner of the Pont de l’Alma and the Quai d’Orsay.Guide to the 63 Bus in Paris - Amazing for Sight-seeing!

Tip: If you are planning on making several stops along one or more bus lines in a day, I would recommend the Mobilis day pass, a ticket that allows unlimited rides on all metros, buses and RER trains. Find more information about the various transportation ticket options here.

Click here to see the trip and points of interest

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Paris Day 11 (2020)

Bonnie and Barry were off early this morning.  Bonnie was going to take a class in sauces from La Cuisine Paris today.

Pat and I found our way down to the river Seine to see the miniature version of the Statue of Liberty presented to the US by France.

We then were off to meet Barry and Bonnie for lunch and visit the cooking stores in the Les Halle area. However Pat wanted to make stop along the way for a photograph of an alley with umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.

The place we usually stop by when were in the Les Halles area was closed for renovation.  It appears that there is a tremendous amount of renovation going on everywhere so I think the French economy is booming like the US. We finally stop by La Compas on Rue

Onion Soup from La Compas on Rue Montorgueil


a Lacor emersion circulator in La bovine

Thai Chicken salad at La compas

While in Les Halles we visited Detou, La Bovida, Mora, and of course no trip would be complete without a visit to E. Dehillerin on rue Coquillière.

Back at the apartment for a short rest then of to La Cordonnerie, Chez Yevette and Claude (Hugo’s) for dinner. Dinner special were a Foie Gras in a balsamic glaze of a reduction of balsamic vinegar, veal stock and butter. There also was a poached cod over arugula with diced apple and pear and a bit of vinegar.

On the route to the restaurant the subject of Place Vendome came up so I thought I would add a note about it here:

Place Vendôme (French pronunciation: ​[plas vɑ̃dom]) is a square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France, located to the north of the Tuileries Gardens and east of the Église de la Madeleine. It is the starting point of the rue de la Paix. Its regular architecture by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and pedimented screens canted across the corners give the rectangular place Vendôme the aspect of an octagon. The original Vendôme Column at the centre of the square was erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz; it was torn down on 16 May 1871, by decree of the Paris Commune, but subsequently re-erected and remains a prominent feature on the square todayPhoto By Giorgio Galeotti – Flickr: Place Vendome – Paris, France – April 20, 2011, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The entree special were a sword fish steak dusted with curry, cumin and cinnamon then pan roasted and served with a sauce of honey and vinegar to cut the sweetness of the honey. Pat, Barry and Bonnie when for the sword fish special I opted to get the grilled lamb steak.



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Paris Day 10 (2020)

We decided to have Croissant aux Almond so our normal boulangerie had none this morning, so I headed over to the alley off rue Talmal to another boulangerie, no success, them on to Avenue Mozart: Success.  So to get my the Croissants I walked 3800 stems or about 1.6 miles so zero calories today.

After breakfast we hen shopping at the President Wilson Market for dinner and some fruit.  We selected fresh pasta and a homemade sauce by the vendor.

President Wilson market

We then headed up to Montmartre for lunch and to visit Sacré Cœur we stopped for lunch at Cafe Boheme some nice salads.

A panoramic view from Montmatre, click to make larger.

Then on to the Basilica  and the down the hill. While the ladies went shopping in fabric stores Barry and I sat and had a glass of wine on the street below Sacré Cœur.

Pistachio from Bolungerie Mozart

We then headed back to the apartment with a stop along the way for bread and eclairs.  Tonight we chose a Petit épeautre a baguette made with einkorn flour.

Chocolate Eclair

baguette made with einkorn flour.

Done for the day we headed back home


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Paris Day 9 (2020)

Out to the market this morning, we decided to revisit the Enfant Rouge market at 39 rue de Bretagne (Metro: Filles du Calvaire).  This market is more a melange of food vendors and a good place to stop in for an early lunch because they close at 1300.

We walk around he their arrondissement for a while and found and interesting Parisian park called Square du Temple – Elie Wiesel We continued on and wandered around the area, until I suggest we go visit the up and coming neighborhood of Belleville.  We took the metro and got off at the Belleville metro stop, right at the foot of Chinatown.  I’m sure they you are all thinking we are crazy right about now saying Chinatown? What with the Coronavirus originating in China. We also encountered a street market in Belleville along the Boulevard Belleville in the median.The market appeared to be what we consider a sub-standard market where vendors sell products near the end of there marketability at reduced prices, the market was vibrant. Belleville (French: [bɛlvil]) is a neighbourhood of Paris, France, parts of which lie in four different arrondissements. The major portion of Belleville straddles the borderline between the 20th arrondissement and the 19th along its main street, the Rue de Belleville. The remainder lies in the 10thand 11th arrondissements.Belleville – home to one of Paris’s lively Chinatowns, a burgeoning artist quarter and a dizzying array of cultures. Belleville has always been a working class neighborhood, with immigration generating much of the area’s zest. What started in the 1920’s with Greeks, Jews and Armenians led to waves of North Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans and Chinese immigrants settling here. Cheap rents have also led artists to flow into the area, making it an ideal spot for their ateliers. Belleville may not provide a typical experience of Paris, but its energy and diversity are certainly worth checking out.

We headed back to the 16th to do some exploring.

We stopped by the Marché Passy and the fish monger was preparing some Oursin, sea urchins.

Dinner tonight was a rotisserie chicken, potatoes and sautéed onions and tomatoes, a baguette and wine


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