Sunday, April 8, 2012

Retour à Nice 2012

Our retour à Nice (return to Nice) has been an adventure thus far. Vince and I came home to Nice separately (I came with Honey on Lufthansa, Vince traveled solo using our American Airlines miles). My trip was easy-breezy. Honey was the perfect traveling companion, snuggling into her airline-approved Sherpa bag, days before we left when we were dusting off luggage for the trip:

Honey and I flew from SFO to Munich on this plane:

Nooo, not really. This was a snack shop at the Munich airport. Cute, huh? Anyhow, our layover in Munich was long enough to get out for some 'fresh air,' as dogs like to say. And then we were on to Nice. Door-to-door, it took about 23 hours. A stretch of time, to be sure, but completely uneventful. Whew!

Vince's trip was not so easy-breezy. In fact, it was dark and stormy. And there was an emergency landing. And tornadoes. But that's a tale for another blog post.

Honey and I got to Nice and found that all was as we left it last summer. The apartment, our neighborhood, Old Nice and The Mediterranean. We toured the food and flower market in Old Nice on the Saturday after we arrived, where all the familiar sights, smells and sounds welcomed us back and reminded us why we find the Cote d'Azur so utterly charming. (Check out a larger version of the video below by clicking here!)

Even the lovely sunset was just where we left it:

Honey made herself at home and settled right in:

But we were awfully lonesome until Vince came, nearly a week later. Thank goodness for Skype!

And thank goodness for our friend Christine, who was so sweet -- meeting us at the airport and keeping us company while we awaited Vince. We spent some lovely days together, and she made our wait seem not so anxious.

So, Honey and I were on our own for awhile.

Vince finally arrived last Thursday, and we are thrilled to be a family again! I'll file his travel report in the coming days... stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Italian Job

When Mo visited us in Nice last time, a train strike kept us from taking a short trip with her to Venice. So, after Maureen had been in Nice for a few days this September, we once again started kicking around the idea of seeing Venice.

Unfortunately, prices for hotel rooms were peaking (due to the Venice Film Festival), so we decided to explore Santa Margherita, Portofino and the Cinque Terre. We bought our train tickets, booked a room at a hotel in a castle, packed a small bag -- and we were off on our four-day adventure.

It was relaxing, spectacularly beautiful, and altogether super-fantastic. I already consider the French Riviera my "second home," but I think I may have a found a "third home" on the Italian Riviera. Check out the video to see some of the highlights.

For a larger-size version of the video, click here.

Mo' Maureen: The Sequel

Our BFF and neighbor in San Francisco, Maureen (aka "Mo"), returned for a visit a few weeks ago, and it was so good to see her. Honey was very helpful when Mo unpacked:

We did some exploring in Old Nice and took some lovely walks by the sea:

Mo was a very charming hostess when we invited Sonia and Olivier Cousin to dinner:

It was a lovely, quiet evening. The next day, we conspired with Mo about taking a trip to Italy, including Santa Margherita, Portofino and the Cinque Terre. Details on that escapade tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Love Letter to Sweden

In the weeks (and weeks) since I last posted, I pulled together a few pictures of our recent trip to Sweden. I also grabbed some pictures from a (pre-Honey) trip Vince and I took to Sweden in 2008; that adventure included a jaunt to Copenhagen as well.

I scrambled it all up and came up with the following. Click here for the YouTube version.

Interesting sidebar to The Trip that Almost Wasn't: Starting in 2013, Honey won't need nearly as much paperwork to travel, as the UK will be relaxing its pet-travel requirements, and Sweden is expected to bring its procedures into line with EU rules as well.

Good thing we got to jump through all the hoops while they were still in place!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Swede Homecoming

Vince and I first went to Sweden together in October 2008, to see our longtime friends Jim and Lennart.
They lived in SF for years before selling their antique lighting shop and retiring, and have been lifelong friends with Vince (and me, after I came along). They spend about half of their time in Sweden and the other half in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Hmm.. a couple of guys who split their time between far-flung locales? Remind you of anyone?

When we arrived in Nice, we weren't sure our trip to Sweden would come to fruition, but it worked out perfectly. And it was just like coming home.

Jim and Lennart really put on the dog when we arrived. No, they weren't teasing Honey. Putting on the dog by celebrating our arrival with a couple of lovely dinner parties at their country cabin. First with a gaggle of Swedish friends and family:

The next night, we had a delightful dinner with Lennart's brother Jolle and sister-in-law Gittan.

We had such fun. We popped over to see Gittan and Jolle again during our Swedish adventure, and met up with some of new friends at an art show a few days later:

Vince and I took in the art, but Honey was distracted:

She met some sweet poodles:

And apparently, that wore her out:

After that, a bunch of us met for lunch at Freadals Trädgårdscafé as well. Freadals is gorgeous:

We had shrimp sandwiches for lunch. Pretty much the rule in Sweden.

Gunilla was initially served 1 shrimp:

And being a good sport, she savored her it!

We had a lot of laughs and fun getting to know everyone better:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Trip that Almost Wasn’t

Before we left for Nice, Vince and I planned a 10-day trip to see our friends Jim and Lennart, and stay with them at their country cabin in Sweden. It’s a charming home, set in a tranquil forest by a lake. We looked forward to a restful stay away from the hustle and bustle of Nice.
The last item on our pre-travel checklist was to get Honey’s paperwork together for France and Sweden. All was in order, until we hit a glitch. It turns out that Sweden requires additional paperwork beyond what most Western European countries require.

We’ve taken Honey abroad before, and we assumed we knew the drill: A visit to her vet (no more than 10 days before our departure date) so she could get her current health certificate and proof of rabies vaccination, then a trip to the USDA near SFO so the inspector could verify and stamp the documents. The inspector told us that, in order to gain entry to Sweden, Honey would need to get a vaccination for tapeworm from her vet in France (we knew about that) and that she would need to have a blood test to ensure that her level of rabies antibodies were within a certain range (it’s called a rabies antibody titer test — we didn’t know about that). We had just enough time to take Honey back to the vet for the test, but it didn’t look like the results would be ready for three or four weeks. If we paid a fee to expedite the paperwork, we might just make it. But it was slim-to-iffy at best. We opted for standard processing of Honey’s results and tried to change our flight to a later date (to no avail — cheap tickets aren’t very flexible). So we reconciled ourselves to missing out on a relaxing stay in the Swedish countryside.

Somehow, the results came back just in time.
We got the form two days before departure, which was one day before a national French holiday (Bastille Day aka La Fête Nationale aka le quatorze juillet). It’s a big deal (a 4th-of-July-type big deal) in France, and businesses would be closed the next day. And our flight was at the crack of dawn the following day. So we scampered off to our vet’s office in Nice for a same-day drop-in visit so he could certify Honey’s titer test — and suddenly, we were good to go. Honey not only got the paperwork we needed to go to Sweden, she got a French-issued EU Pet Passport!
A big thanks and merci to our US vet, Dr. Andrew Lie, and our French vet, Dr. Paul Benzimra.

Next time: Home, Swede Homecoming!