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Forget taking day-long bus tours of the chateaux with hordes of tourists. Instead, itís easy and relatively inexpensive (about $60 each way) to hop aboard Franceís high-speed TGV trains and make the 75-minute journey from Gare Montparnasse in Paris to the city of Tours, which is famous for its, well, towers.
The Suites Beranger is housed in an 1860 mansion that has been beautifully restored by the married couple who own it and act as hosts. It fronts one of Toursí main roads--a 10-minute walk from the train station, or two minutes in a taxi.
Lifting the flap of our military-grade safari tent for a peak outside, we looked across the tall grasses and waited for the elephants to come. The air was cool, but inside we were warm and incredibly comfortable. With a powerhouse heating unit, electric heating blankets, a mini fridge and coffeemaker, full bathroom (!), HDTV (!!), and a sitting area, youíd never guess this was the inside of a tent. You might also think you were on an African savannah, never imagining you were actually in Californiaís Salinas Valley, just a 30-minute drive from Monterey.
Itís one of many big surprises we got from our stay at Vision Quest Ranch B&B, a super cool hodgepodge of a place thatís hard to limit to one description. Itís a ranch with awesomely equipped tents, itís a zoo called Wild Things for retired and rescued exotic animals, itís a training compound for animals who participate in TV and films (and its famous for the retired Hollywood animals that have called it home), itís an education center lead by a remarkable team of trainers, and, of course, thereís a dog kennel onsite, too.
Every stay includes a guided tour of the grounds, including the zoo-like compound area, and we experienced ours when we arrived the day before. No joke, we saw every kind of big cat -- lions, tigers, lynx, cougars, leopards Ė plus bears, elephants, zebra, monkeys, wallaby, kangaroo, hyenas, even tortoises (who happened to be getting quite busy). Many of the animals are actually walked daily so we promptly picked our jaws up off the floor on seeing a baboon and a red kangaroo out for a leashed gander.
Boozy B and Bs / B and Bs / Portugal Hotels / VIneyard Hotels / Hotel Wines / Gourmet Hotels / → All Tags
For the latest update in our Boozy B&Bís we traveled to the sunny climes of Portugal to visit the UNESCO World Heritage city of Oporto, and the ridiculously picturesque hills of the Douro River Valley where we tasted the famous fortified Port wines as well as Douro DOC wines (weíre talking Touriga here) as well as to sample the local hotel scene.
We love us some wine travelóthe tastings, the food, the activities, and especially the long naps. Thatís why itís important to find just the right place to stay wherever we go wine-tasting in the world, and why HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen fills us in on a boozy B&B he visited on a recent trip to Chile.
Since itís #WineWednesday, we got to thinking about some of our recent wine adventures including a visit to Chileís famous Colchagua Valley, where we happened upon a little Relais & Chateaux property at one of the areaís best-known wineries: Casa Lapostolle.
Hey, Alaska travelers Ė especially those not yet eligible for AARP! Guess what? You donít have to subject yourself to big cruise ships packed with thousands of passengers to experience the islands of Southeast Alaska and the Inside Passage. (Although if en masse modes of transport are your thing, thatís a-okay by us.)
Independent travelers with wanderlust and time to spare hop on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry in Bellingham, Washington for a scenic 38-hour ride to Ketchikan. Donít panic Ė thereís a bar onboard, as well as cabins for your sleeping pleasure. Or you can start your nautical itinerary from a handful of other islands within Southeast Alaska. Alaska Airlines also operates flights between the major destinations.
Silverbow Inn and Bakery co-owner and former New Yorker, Jill Ramiel, had us at hand-boiled bagels. There has been a bakery on this historic site since the 1890ís, and Ramielís bakery is a bit of a social fixture in the small community, being the first to offer free Wi-Fi.
Jill and her hubby also offer regular indie flicks on a big projector screen, rotating art exhibits, and the most divine cookies, brownies, and yes, bagels. Donít miss the snickerdoodles, toasted toasted almond bagels with apple butter and Alaskan Beer bread.
The bakery also stays open late serving beer, wine and light fare, offering a civilized alternative to the countless beer-and-a-shot dive bars that dot downtown Juneau.