May 6, 2014
Breakfast, final packing and on the bus at 8:30. The sky is cloud-filled and it is trying to rain on our parade...but only forecast for the morning. Cathedral bells sending us on our way.
The area we are traveling through is called the " grainery" of France. Miles and miles of rapeseed and wheat fields dotted with small villages. Passing by huge grain storage facilities, wind turbines, quarries, and wheel lines. Several people have spotted pheasant but I haven't actually seen any yet.
Had a girl's only stop just outside Amboise to get our picture taken with a nude statue of Leonardo da Vinci! Walked down the main rue, stopped for sandwiches to eat later and climbed the hill to Leonardo da Vinci's home (www.vinci-closluce.com). He was definitely a man ahead of his times...so many inventions that really only made it to the model stages...precursors of tanks, autos, airplanes, machine guns, parachutes, swing bridge, paddle boat, helicopter, and more..machines five centuries ahead of their time. We can't figure out how he had time to paint!
Drove another hour to the Chateau de Chenonceau. Spent two hours wandering through the rooms and gardens. We have a very nice guidebook with professional pictures and explanations. If you are interested in what we saw, you have google (www.It was so crowded with people, though. I think they said over 800,000 visitors a year.
Arrived at our new hotel...quaint, tucked behind in a sweet neighborhood. Run by a brother and two sisters. Walls of my room are fabric covered...very cute. Pretty large for European rooms! Had 20 minutes to freshen up for a very nice restaurant dining experience. The 5-course meal took over 3 hours!! I hate that part but the food was magnificent...over the top delicious...over the top presentations!! You will have to see pictures to appreciate it. I will try to describe the dessert...dark chocolate rectangular cookie/ cake covered with raspberry gelatin, topped with decadent chocolate mousse, topped with a strip of white chocolate topped with a raspberry. Along side we had a red wine slushie to cleanse our pallets between bites. The plate had a white sauce and raspberry sauce in an elegant design. And there was a pulled caramel decoration, too. This after four other courses!! Back at the hotel by 10:30... Way past my bedtime and I'm stuffed and exhausted.
Most of the buildings and apartments and homes are a buttery cream colored stucco...some with timbers showing, some with brick accents...the only color being the window trim and/or shutters.
Lots of dog poop on the sidewalks...always have to be aware of where you step!!
All of France is non-smoking...public buildings, restaurants, public transportation.
Seat belts required in all EU countries...even on buses.
Nuclear power plants... 70% of France's power from these. Cheap power. 59 nuclear power plants. Other power imported...oil (imported from Russia), natural gas (imported from Netherlands). 15% hydro power.
Loire River divides the country north and south.
Rolinka told us that since Rick Steve's tours are advertised as non-shopping tours, she has devised a code word for a good shopping place...winkle. The rest areas here in France are like mini-marts in the states...so she calls them winkle-tinkle stops!