Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." -- Bill Bryson

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dreaming of French Flowers

It is cold and damp here today, and it even snowed earlier.  Hard to believe when just 2 days ago it was in the high 60s here!

Tonight at dinner, my son and I talked about where he wants to go for his special trip this spring.

When our daughter was the same age, we sent her to London and Paris with a friend.  It was to be the first of many trips abroad on her own.  She loves to travel, and if her finances would allow it, I think she could be happy living the life of a Nomad.

We consider ourselves very, very fortunate to have been able to expose our children to different cultures through travel.  And the college our son attends actually requires a study abroad experience in order to graduate.

But before he goes abroad for an entire semester, we want to give him the same opportunity to travel for a week or so to some place he finds appealing.  Right now, he and his friend are having trouble deciding just where they want to go.

Of course if it were up to his dear mother, well I would have to say France...maybe Normandy.  I've never been to that part of France, but both the beauty and the historical significance of that region has always appealed to me.

For now I will have to settle for looking at these beautiful flowers and day dreaming about my time spent in France last fall.  I think if I ever win the lottery, I will become a world traveler.  I would love that way more than a big fancy house and an expensive luxury car!

If you won the lottery, what would you spend it on?  Would you travel, or would you stay right where you are and build your dream home?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Time Flies

It seems like just yesterday I was standing overlooking a small French village from this hilltop vineyard!

But that's how time works as you get older, it seems to just fly by without much warning.  You turn around and poof, another week, month, year has drifted by and you wonder where in the heck it went, and how it slipped by without you being able to slow it down a little.

To those of you who have so patiently waited to get your photos from my last giveaway that was AGES ago, I apologize!  Time has eluded me lately, and I don't even know how, but days have turned to weeks and I just finally ordered the prints tonight!  So you will be getting your photos, just not in a timely fashion that I had intended.

Things like a broken leg (not mine but dear Ms. M), work stuff, family stuff, house stuff, have all gotten in the way of my good intentions lately.  And now the holidays are upon us...sheesh, can someone stop this crazy ride so that I can get off?   Or can you at least teleport me back to the tiny village in France where time seems to have stood still for a few centuries?!  Maybe that is the secret, going on permanent vacation where time seems to slow down just a little.  I'm all for testing out this theory, anyone want to join me?!

Apparently the universe is telling me to slow down a bit, or at least to not read or send emails anyway.  The past few months my emails have been disappearing into never, never land.  Or maybe they have just slowed down and slipped into another dimension.

So if you haven't heard from me, or if I haven't heard from you...well we are apparently communicating in my fantasy land where time slows down to a snail's pace.  At first I thought it was just my gmail, which has always given me a little bit of a fit, but my brother and our realtor have also not been receiving my emails, and those are on my regular ISP account...sigh!

So let's just all move to the tiny village in Northern France and walk to each other's houses instead of emailing, spend hours eating a meal, enjoy long walks, and I can hand out my giveaway items instead of having to order and mail them.  Sound like a plan?!

If you don't hear from me before Thanksgiving, just assume that I'm some place wonderful, and not banging my head against my keyboard which is far more likely!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

La Bicyclette

Thanks everyone for your sweet comments!

And is there anything quite as lovely as a pink bicyclette?!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Breaking the Rules

What a crazy couple of weeks since I have been back.  First of all one of the stories I wrote for Romantic Country made the cover!  This is the second time this has happened, another story I wrote made the cover of the last issue.  And even though I just wrote the story and didn't take any of the photos, it is still exciting to see them make the cover!

The talented Dan Mayers was the photographer, and Fifi worked her magic doing the styling on this beautiful home featured in the latest issue of Romantic Country.  And the homeowner, Sharon, who I now consider a friend, was so thrilled to see her living room on the cover...who wouldn't be right?!

Sharon owns a great store in Occoquan, Virginia called Brambles and if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping by.  I did a post on her shop awhile HERE to read it.  The same time and effort she has put in to creating her shop is evident in her lovely home.  And her hand painted furnishings and artwork are simply beautiful!

I know that those of you who read Romantic Country will enjoy getting a peek inside Sharon's home, and I want to thank her for letting us invade her house to create the story!

(picture of us taken by my daughter)

Last Saturday, Mr. Tide and I ventured up to our nation's capital, to meet up with my bloggy friend Traci and her husband Jeremy from Atlanta.  Our daughter also tagged along as we strolled through the American History Museum, where we even got to see Julia Child's kitchen which has been on display for awhile now. 
We also managed to avoid the demonstrators and the pepper spray which was all taking place just a few blocks from where we were...phew!

Our daughter headed off to meet a friend for dinner, and the four of us went to Old Town Alexandria for a yummy dinner together.  It was great getting to spend time with both Traci and her husband, especially since we have known one another for several years now, both through our blogs, but before that through Garden Web, where we connected over kitchen remodeling.

So there you have it, I broke my own rule and posted a picture of myself, which I never, ever do!  Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, or maybe I just don't give a damn anymore, hard to say which it is.  Either way, I'm glad I have a photo to remember the day, which was great fun!

Who knows what my next post will be, I'm going buck wild folks...I tell ya, it could get crazy around here!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Round and Round

Everywhere you go in France you can find one of these...

A beautiful old carousel...this one even has a stork you can ride on.  Storks are very important in Strasbourg and the surrounding areas.

They are intricately carved...

And feature beautiful artwork!

And on a Saturday afternoon you will hear the laughter of children as they go round and round.

Just watching these magnificent whirling machines, with their music playing, makes you feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Missing Europe

 Castle Heidelberg Germany

We arrived home from Germany and France late last night.  Today I am dragging anchor a little bit, but not too much.

 View of Castle on the hill from the town of Heidelberg

To say we had a good time would be a gross understatement.  When we boarded the plane yesterday in Frankfurt, we were both excited to see our son and our puppies, but sad to leave all that Europe has to offer.

 Statue in the old part of Heidelberg

We got to see so many beautiful places, immerse ourselves in the cultures of two beautiful countries, and we even met some wonderful people along the way...and isn't that what vacation is all about?!

 View from the castle looking down on old town Heidelberg

While Mr. Tide worked in Heidelberg for the first few days, I wandered the town, taking pictures and drinking in its beauty, which was everywhere you looked.

 Cafe in Heidelberg, Germany

I stopped in cafes along side streets and sipped mineral water and nibbled on croissants as I watched the world go by.

Bridge in Heidelberg 

By night, the city took on an almost fairytale like quality, and I kept my tripod and camera with me at all times so that I could capture the magic of it all.

 Flower Market in Strasbourg, France

After our time in Heidelberg, it was time to take the train somewhere, anywhere...and just a day before we would leave Germany we agreed to go to Strasbourg, was a very good decision!

 Flower stall Strasbourg France

The city of Strasbourg is a lovely mix of German and French cultures, and because flowers are such a part of the French lifestyle, the flower stalls on Saturday were a feast for the eyes.  I think I took 30 pictures alone of this one stall!

  L'ill Canal which runs through Strasbourg

Strasbourg is another story book city, and in the evening, when the sun is low, it is truly breathtaking. 

 Beautiful Doorway in Strasbourg

You can lose yourself here, and feel as though you've been transported back in time.  Can't you just imagine the people who have come and gone through this doorway for hundreds of years?  I took a whole series of door pictures while in many amazing details!

 Ceiling above the altar in Strasbourg's Notre-Dame Cathedral

And speaking of amazing details...the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg is almost beyond comprehension!  I spent over 2 hours photographing it...both inside and out, on one of the days we were there!  I think it is one of the most beautiful and painstakingly intricate structures I've ever visited!

 Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle France

On our last afternoon in Strasbourg, we headed south to the fabled wine route in Alsace and stopped at the Castle of Haut Koenigsbourg.  I will likely do a whole post on this amazing castle, but above is a glimpse at some of the intricately carved furnishings which grace nearly every room.

 Riquewihr France

After our tour of the castle, we headed to one of the small towns along the wine route called Riquewihr.  It was as if it had sprung right from the pages of Beauty and The Beast!

 Flower box (with texture applied) Riquewihr France

Riquewihr is a charming village with narrow hilly streets and half timbered houses dotted with overflowing flower boxes.

 Wine cellar in Riquewihr France

We were lucky enough to sample 3 different wines in a family owned cellar which dates back to the 16th Century.  The wines were all delicious, and they are only sold in France, as it is a small winery...I wish we had had room in our luggage to bring back a few bottles.

 Fountain Riquewihr

Everywhere you looked there were beautiful flowers and bubbling fountains.  I hope we can spend more time on our next trip to France just visiting these charming villages along the wine route in Alsace.

Tower Frankfurt Germany

After leaving France, it was off to Frankfurt to catch our flight home.  Frankfurt is an interesting city with a mix of old and new.  Historic buildings stand next to towering modern structures such as the space needle styled building pictured above.

Old Opera House Frankfurt Germany

The old opera house in Frankfurt is lovely, especially at night.  We dined nearby and waited for the sun to go down so that I could get some good shots after dark.

Cathedral Notre Dame Strasbourg France

One of the most interesting and beautiful things we saw while on our trip happened purely by accident.  I was taking pictures in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg when a gentlemen approached us and asked us in French if we knew about the green light.  I studied french years ago in high school, and let's just say that my speaking skills are rather lacking, but I am able to understand at least some of what is said to me.  

The man went on to explain that each year during the equinox, the sun is at a perfect position to cast a green glow onto the Christ figure on a podium at the side of the church.  The green color is caused by the stained glass panel which is perfectly aligned to do this just twice a year, and we happened to be there on that very day.  He told Mr. Tide and me where to sit in order to get the best view of this special event.  Apparently it's quite a big deal as there was a video camera crew and a speaker who explained the events which were about to unfold.  There was a speech, and the organ also played several songs...very impressive as it's a huge pipe organ that reverberates around the entire cathedral.

I set up the tripod and waited, and at noon time the green light began to filter into the church and it began on one side of the podium and slowly traveled until it rested on the carving of the crucifix.  Then after a few moments, it continued down the podium and onto the floor.  It was a very moving thing to see, and I'm so thankful the man took the time to tell us, or we likely would have left, never knowing what we would have missed.  This same man went on to take us around the cathedral giving us a sort of private tour full of interesting details about the cathedral and its meaning.  I love these chance encounters which seem to happen to me each time I travel, they are so very special and will remain with me forever.

I took literally hundreds of pictures during our trip, and I will be spending the next several days trying to process them and choosing the best ones to send to the gallery and to share with all of you.

I hope each of you had a wonderful week while we were gone and that your week is going well so far.  

Tonight I will be dreaming of France and Germany, and missing those two beautiful countries.  I feel so very fortunate to live where I do, but also to be able to travel to other parts of the world and enjoy all that they have to offer.  

I believe that it is through travel that we truly find ourselves.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The House at Royal Oak and a Giveaway

I find that now when I travel I seek out small little inns and bed and breakfasts as my places of choice to stay when I'm away from home.  They just seem to offer a more intimate setting and, along with the experience of staying in beautiful old homes, they are often owned by wonderfully interesting people with tales to tell and insider info about the area in which they are located.

Sometimes they are overly done and almost a caricature of a period home, sometimes they are clearly opened to help pay the mortgage and are not very charming or hospitable, but then there are those that transport you to a simpler place and time.  They are lovingly restored, carefully maintained, and cherished by those who consider themselves lucky to live there and share their good fortune with others!

Royal Oak House is one of those special B&Bs.  Owned by Hugo and Carol Rizzoli, it is located on the scenic Eastern Shore of Maryland in a small hamlet called Royal Oak.   Situated near the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, it is everything you hope to find when staying at a B&B.  The house, which dates back to 1883, was once the parsonage for a "circuit riding" minister who traveled between three nearby churches.  It was constructed after the Civil War by the Northern Methodists and remained church owned until the Great Depression when a local Talbot County family purchased it to use as their private residence.

(The home as it appeared in 2001 before the renovations) 

When Carol and Hugo bought their home in 2001, it was still in the same family who had purchased it in the 1930s but it was a shell of it's former self.  Perhaps it was the very fact that this once stately home had lost its way which made the Rizzoli's want to bring her back to her former glory.  You see, both Carol and Hugo were undergoing their own major life changes.  

Carol had developed debilitating migraines which threatened her career as a successful editor for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and Hugo's once thriving independent bookstore was now competing head to head with monoliths like Borders and Barnes and Noble.  He had already made the transition from owning the bookstore to working as a respected chef on Martha's Vineyard when these life circumstances forced them to reconsider what the future held for both of their careers.

The idea of running a small scale B&B appealed to both of them, and so the quest began to find the perfect home in an ideal location.  When they came upon Royal Oak House, located just outside of the charming resort town of St. Michaels, Maryland, they were instantly drawn to it.  "It reminded me of my grandma's house," says Carol, adding that "It reminded Hugo of his family's beach house," where he spent summers as a child.

(The side porch as it appeared in 2001 before the renovations)

When they bought the property, it was neglected and had been used as a rental, but the Rizzoli's could somehow see past the dirt, junk, and dilapidation that had overwhelmed the house over the years.  Though still owned by the grandson of the family who purchased it in the 30s, it was more like a flop house than a true rental property.  When Carol and Hugo decided to try and purchase the house, they were interviewed at length to ensure that their intent was to restore the property and not simply tear it down.

(The side porch as it appears today after restoration)

Armed with little knowledge other than the fact that change was in the cards, the couple began the arduous process of recapturing the grandeur of this Victorian farmhouse.  "At times I thought we had lost our marbles," recalls Carol.

When they brought in several contractors to assess the home's ability to be salvaged, one contractor unceremoniously snubbed his cigarette out on the original hardwood floors in the dining room and declared, "Frankly it's a tear down!"

And he wasn't the only one who considered the house to be beyond repair, many in the town though Carol and Hugo were a bit crazy for taking on such a major project.

Undaunted by the huge task at hand, Hugo did much of the painstaking restoration work himself.  Gathering tools, learning trade skills, and spending every free moment in the pursuit of restoring the old parsonage, the couple became their own contractors. 

What resulted were years of hard labor on both of their parts with the end result being a house brought back to life through love and determination!

"It was almost like we married this house," Carol remarks.  "Something old something new, something borrowed, something blue," she adds with a smile.

And their journey to restore the house became more than just a restoration project, it became a life journey as well.  With each layer of paint removed, they were getting to the core of who they were as people.  With trepidation, they tackled every aspect of the renovation never knowing what tomorrow would bring and whether this labor of love would be equally as well received by strangers looking for a place to lay their heads while in the area!

And as with any successful restoration of a historic property done on a shoestring budget, they were aided by friends and family.  Carol's brother re-built a window, while Hugo's brother (a race car driver) fabricated the stainless steel in the small galley kitchen.

And as they set out on this journey to create a new life in a new place, Carol had the presence of mind to write about their experiences.  These were mostly personal notes to help them remember the ins and outs of the restoration, but over time it evolved and she decided to compile those writings into a book entitled The House at Royal Oak, published by Workman/Black Dog, New York.

The book, which chronicles the transformation of not only the house, but themselves is a wonderful read filled with heartfelt emotion and humorous anecdotes about bringing the property back from the depths and creating a thriving B&B in small town America!

With the flip of each page you will feel as though you are on the roller coaster ride right along with Carol and Hugo!  Taking four times as long to complete and costing six times as much as projected created plenty of fodder for a book!

And for those of you who have always longed to own a B&B in a charming old house, you'll get an insider's view of the trials and triumphs that come with such an undertaking.

It was quiet at Royal Oak House on the day I was there, a rare occurrence during their peak season.  Guests had just checked out that morning, and I was able to sneak in before that evening's guests had arrived!

Each room was readied for the incoming guests with fresh flowers and crisp linens.

A mixed berry cobbler baking in the oven filled the house with the most delightful smell, and would be ready for guests during afternoon tea later that day.

The front door waited patiently to be swung wide open to welcome first time and returning visitors alike!

The foyer boasted a tea cart filled with snacks and a carafe of cool, refreshing lemonade for parched guests on a hot summer's afternoon.

And the parlor where a country man once ministered his flock is now a place for guests to relax and catch up on some reading.

There are no TV's at Royal Oak House and Hugo and Carol prefer it that way.  "People come really to get away," says Carol.  And with books everywhere throughout the house, it really is a respite from the hectic pace of everyday life outside this cozy B&B.

With so many beautifully restored rooms, you really don't need or want television!

With little seating vignettes scattered through the property, and overlooking acres of conservation farmland, you'll never be without something wonderful to look at or a place to clear your mind!

And when you tire of the gardens or have taken in all of the sites that historic St. Michaels has to offer, like the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, mouth watering restaurants, or wonderful and unique shops like Hype (who first told me about Royal Oak House...thank you Fran!), then you can head upstairs to one of the comfortable bedrooms.

Maybe it will be the Elm room overlooking the front lawn...

With it's soft blue walls, comfy bed, plaid curtains, and original oak floors!

And treat yourself to a little drink before heading back out for dinner.

Before you leave to go back to town, you can freshen up in this charming ensuite bathroom!

Complete with plenty of fluffy white towels and lovely toiletries!  And if you take a peek behind those curtains, you can look down to the side yard through the original old wavy glass!

Or maybe you'll be treated to a stay in the Linden Room overlooking the side gardens...

Where a pair of comb back windsor chairs invite you to sit for a spell and write a post card or two on the drop leaf gate leg table!

After enjoying a relaxing sail and crab feast arranged by Hugo and Carol, you can settle in for the night in your four poster bed!

Just don't forget to settle in with a copy of The House at Royal Oak for some entertaining bedtime reading!

In the morning you can walk down several steps to your private bathroom to get ready to start your day exploring all the wonderful places that the area has to offer, like taking a trip on the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.  It's the believed to be the oldest privately operated ferry service in the country!

And although this sign hangs on the bathroom door, Hugo and Carol won't even charge you extra for fresh towels and soap! ;-)

Should the Elm and Linden rooms both be booked, the Acorn room is available to guests.

This special room features a white iron bed, painted hardwood floors, and a dreamy canopy of shear white fabric!

Its monochromatic color scheme provides the perfect spot for relaxation after a long day of sightseeing!

And along with having a private bath, it also boasts a door to your own private second story porch!

Hugo and Carol added this porch during the renovations, and with comfortable furniture and a water feature, it is a special spot to while away the hours even on the hottest summer afternoons!

It is clear that both Carol and Hugo have not only invested time and effort into restoring Royal Oak House, but also themselves!  "I want the experience to be more about the guest rather than the owner, " says Carol when asked her philosophy on running a successful Bed and Breakfast.  And it's clear from my time spent at Royal Oak House that they have more than succeeded in that endeavor!

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed meeting both Carol and Hugo Rizzoli last week and getting a glimpse into the hard earned life they have created for themselves.

While I was there, Carol offered to give me a signed copy of her book The House at Royal Oak, Workman/Black Dog Publishing, to use as a Giveaway! (Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post to find out how you can win this book!)

This book, which has received rave reviews from powerhouses such as the New York Times, Washingtonian Magazine, and others is about so much more than a couple leaving the city life and high powered careers to start anew in a small town in Maryland.  It is a look inside the lives of two very special people who overcame adversity, and with a meager budget, created a place to fulfill their passions and dreams and I know that the lucky winner will enjoy every word!

I think the title and subtitle of the book sum it up best, "The House at Royal Oak...Starting Over and Rebuilding a Life One Room at a Time."

If you would like to find out how you can spend time at the Royal Oak House Bed and Breakfast, click HERE!   And for more information about how to order the book, you can click HERE to visit Carol's official site, visit your local bookstore, or go to Amazon to get your copy!

About the Giveaway!!!

1.  Leave a comment telling me if you have always dreamed of owning your own Bed and Breakfast.

2.  Become a follower of Low Tide High Style and leave me another comment, or tell me in a separate comment that you already follow for a second chance to win this wonderful book!

3.  Tweet, Blog or Facebook about the giveaway and come back and leave a separate comment for a 3rd chance to win!

This Giveaway will be open until Monday, July 5th at Midnight PST.  Good luck!!!