While the San Francisco Bay Area is home to over seven million people, there are plenty of of opportunities to step away from the crowds find some peaceful open space. One of our favorite haunts is Tilden Park in Berkeley, which is more or less in our back yard. On Saturday we had family in town and with two dogs we headed to Tilden Park to take advantage of the calm between rain storms. This is a great time of year to take a walk in the park. The hills are green and some of the trails offer spectacular views of the Bay Area. The wildflowers are also starting to bloom. We saw poppies, lupine and a few other flowers. Tilden Park is a great place to walk with dogs, and several of the trails will accommodate dogs off leash as long as your dog is well behaved. The park encompasses over 2000 acres and in addition to trails there is a botanical garden, a steam train, a merry go rounds, a golf course and a number of other activities.
We decided to play tourist in our own town today, making our way to the Legion of Honor in the North West corner of San Francisco. The location alone, in Lincoln Park, is worth the visit, overlooking the entrance to San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. We started with lunch at the cafe, eating on the outdoor patio, which was a quiet and peaceful setting. The exhibit “Monet: The Early Years” features works created in the initial stage of Claude Monet’s career (1840-1926). The exhibition runs through May 29. Inspiring to see such a broad variety of work, and to gain appreciation for some of his daring and bold works before he became known for his impressionistic style. On leaving the museum we walked across the street to view the Holocaust Memorial and to admirer the architecture of the Legion of Honor.
Photographed in Killarney National Park in Ireland in May 1981. While the photo is in black and white, I used a green filter to lighten to foliage on the trees. Here’s the photographer in action. Not the same location, but the same equipment.
First stop in the morning on our waking tour, and the bike tour as well, was the local boulangerie. It was a real treat to walk into a French bakery in a small town and buy fresh bread. Part of the treat was the opportunity to interact with the local people. While we didn’t have much of a command of the French language, we were always able to communicate with the few words we had and by pointing to what we wanted. Such a variety of choices from which to choose. From the boulangeire, we would then head to the butcher for salami or cured ham of some sort, then the produce market for apples, peaches, or what ever else we might need for our picnic lunch. Once we were provisioned with bread, cheese, and fruit we would head off for the days adventure, walking ancient paths, and country roads.. At the end of the day’s walk we would typically have a fine four course dinner with a local wine. No shortage of fine wine in the Dordogne. Bread and wine becoming the bookends for our daily adventures.
The highlight of the trip though, wasn’t the bread, the food, the wine, or the places we visited. It was the people. Everywhere we went the people were warmhearted and friendly, whether it was the old woman we met on the first day of our walk, the clerks at the boulangeries, or the inn keepers.
One event in particular stands out as a highlight. Dinner at La Maison Rose. La Maison Rose is a small bead and breakfast in Origne. Dinner is served family style with guests and hosts sitting on benches at a long table. The house, was once the presbytery for the church across the street, and it’s easy to imagine we’re simply carrying on a tradition that has gone on for centuries in the dining room. We shared dinner with Mr et Mme de Rochefort, the hosts, with a fabulous four course dinner of roast rabbit, fresh bread, and a local Bordeaux wine. It was a treat to be entertained by the Rocheforts and to visit with guests from New Zealand, England, and South Africa. Gathering around a common table and sharing bread and wine is like medicine for the soul.
Having just returned from France, I thought it would be appropriate to share something from our recent travels for World Tourism Day. One of the locations we visited was La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux. I was struck by the design of the building, with it’s flowing curves and ribs. Evocative of knotted vines, wine barrels, wine turning in the glass, and the swirls and eddies of the the adjacent Garonne River. The website says “Each and every architectural detail evokes liquid elements and the very soul of wine.” Beyond the design, the museum houses exhibits about wine, covering every aspect of wine that you might imagine.
We’ve logged 102 km on our bike ride, having left the town of Cadillac on the morning of September 17th. Our ride has taken us over the rolling hills of the wine country in the Bordeaux region, past Chateaus, churches, through a variety of villages and hamlets to the small town of Origne, where we’re taking a day to just relax. The french motorists are very courteous and respectful of cyclists it seems. A contrast to riding at home. Enjoying fabulous food and wine along the way.
Today we start another adventure in France with a six-day bicycle ride from Cadillac, near Bordeaux, to Arcachon on the coast, riding through vineyards, visiting Chateaus and shady forests.