Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris

Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris
Relax with a glass of wine at Cafe Marly overlooking the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Calculate the cost of your next trip (and don't forget all those "extras.")

Times are tough, so before you take your vacation, figure out how much it really is going to cost. Go to the link below and do a quick calculation of the cost of your next trip. This calculator reminds you to include such things as parking and pet care costs while you're away. A helpful tool!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spain's City of Wine

Wine tourism is on the rise in Spain, the world’s third-largest wine producer (after France and Italy). Just a little over one hour south of Bilbao is the La Rioja wine region. Its capital is Haro whose barrio de la estación (train-station neighborhood) is dotted with wineries (bodegas) where you can sample the region’s wines.

We’ll head to nearby sleepy Elciego (its Basque name is Eltziego). Here you’ll find the Hotel Marqués de Riscal, designed by architect Frank Gehry (you saw his magnificent Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao). You can’t miss its roof wrapped in pink, silver and gold titanium ribbons. Opened in 2006, the luxury hotel is home to a “City of Wine” including a renowned restaurant (Echaurren), a wine bar, wine tastings, cooking school, wine museum and shop, and “vinothérapie” spa with such features as bathing in wine. Now that’s a total wine experience! Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can tour the winery and taste two of the local wines for €10 (tours are in English, reservations must be made in advance). Info: 1 Calle Torrea. Tel. 945180880.

Elciego and the “City of Wine” are 68 miles (110 km) south of Bilbao/76 miles (122 km) southwest of Pamplona. If you’re driving from Bilbao, take Highway E-70 to Highway A8 in the direction of Victoria-Burgos. Follow Highway AP68 to the Cenicero exit (Exit 10). Continue past the toll booth and turn right onto N-232. Proceed for 1 kilometer and turn left onto LR-512. Turn right onto A-3210 and continue to Elciego.

(Photo courtesy of Bastian via

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What is your favorite Paris restaurant?

Le Severo
Small bistro away from the tourists. The chef used to be a butcher and the beef here is fantastic. I’d make the trip just for the fries! The wine blackboard fills a whole wall of this bistro. Looking for a truly Parisian experience? This is the place. Info: 14th/Métro Alesia Metro Alesia or Mouton-Duvernet. 8 rue des Plantes. Tel. 01/ Closed Sat, Sun. and Aug. Moderate. 

(Photo by Karl Raaum)