Wine a little, you’ll feel better…

“Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin.” 

― Napoleon Bonaparte

Infact, if you whine with wine, you’ll feel even lighter! 🙂 So, who else out there is missing wine country? Come on, let’s whine together!


Once upon a time, there was a studious city girl who went on a grand trip with her bae, to San Francisco, the city of her dreams and also the city hosting a Radiology conference. While this trip was being planned, she chanced upon a luxury travel magazine and fell in love with the pictures from Napa valley. “Oh, please can we go…” she chimed! “You don’t even know wine or enjoy wine!” stated DH, matter-of-factly. “Why do I need to know wine…I just want to enjoy the beauty of a lush countryside, the vineyards, cycle around the rolling green hills…!” DH…rolled his eyes so hard, he saw his brains!- True Story!

Yes, somewhat like that, in an unconventional way, started our life-long love of Wine-countries and then, Wine!

Though Australia and South America are yet to be uncorked, we have some of the European (the Old world vintage) and North American (new world charm) wine regions, bottled up! (do see the movie Bottle-shock, if you haven’t already!)

Sitting with a cuppa coffee (folks please, it’s early morning) I’m flipping through tons of pictures on Iphoto and drooling over wide open spaces, something we city dwellers sorely miss. Noticing that some of the greenest scapes are from our travels to wine regions, I started compiling a list of my favourites and hence this post, based in order of the impact they have left on our memories and the special charm they bring to the table!

Napa-Sonoma (Northern California) (2007)

Since this was the first-ever wine-country experience, it will remain our favorite. Though pictures 13 yrs back were not DSLR quality, we still had to discover wine snobbery 😉 and our palates were not as refined (not saying we are connoisseurs now but can differentiate the fruity notes of a Pinot Noir, from a spicy Syrah), we loved the experience which is etched on the memory as if it was yesterday!

Different notes that one can expect in a typical red wine

Right from the pre-planning stage when we read and acquainted ourselves with etiquettes of wine-tasting which included, practicing “spitting” in the wash-basin, to reading California Driving manual (for rules against DUI), extensively planning which towns to stay and which wineries to visit and pre-renting cycles, mapping the routes, this trip was an eye-opener.

It was like being Alice, in a wonderland, exploring wide-eyed, an entirely extraordinary world! It’s not only about tasting, buying and drinking wine, we learnt about viticulture (which is the art of growing wine) and vinification (the process of making wine, including the grape crushing, mainly staged for us, the tourists, but still fun!).

Ever visited a temperature regulated, cool and dry wine cellar, stacked roof-to the floor with wine barrels, collecting wine from a barrel using a Wine-Thief and keeping a straight face when all about you are claiming to sniff peppercorns or red berries in their wine.

Did you know that some of the wineries are actually housed in beautiful mansions or places of historical interest or simply owned by famous families/ popular personalities, housing memorabilia, made into museums, and giving private pre-booked tours of the properties? One such was the Jacuzzi-family winery, yes the same jacuzzi that we soak-in.

Some of the wine-makers might entice visitors with wine-food or wine-cheese pairings while others might break the ice with a game of basketball or Golf!

Almost every tasting room has a view to-die-for and prices of some of the “Reserva” wines on offer, to die-off. Most of the wineries predictably have shops selling labeled wine merchandise but also, wine-vinegars, olive oils, preserves, all produced locally, worth the money that you buy it with and worth the effort put into bringing it back home!

Though, this is not a Napa Valley exclusive post, its still worth mentioning that we stayed at the top of the valley, in a town called Calistoga, very scenic with hills dotting the backdrop, ideal for those long cycling days, and known for its Mud-baths!

France (2017)

Stop smirking right there and let me explain. Its very-very difficult for me to choose between the famous wine regions within France (hell we drove for almost 20 days and through some of the most scenic routes). I cannot choose between Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire or Provence and cannot ignore upcoming regions like Bandol.


Before the trip, as usual, we scavenged for information on forums, as to which regions to visit for which wine, the wineries to visit, any festivals around that time, best cycling paths, and which child-friendly routes to take. A note that kept popping up was the snootiness of french winemakers and how making appointments was mandatory and sticking to them, even more. Now either we call the french snooty or accept that they appreciate punctuality and that’s no reason to think they are uptight.

In fact, our experience was in most part, very pleasant except for one very over-priced wine-lunch which, in all honesty, could be blamed partly on me being a vegetarian and partly on lack of vegetarian cooking skills of rest of the world. In one particular incidence, the host at a winery in the village of Pommard, in Bourgogne (popularly Burgundy) was so helpful and patient with us, despite us getting massively delayed due to a small biking accident, that he hosted us very pleasantly when we showed up three hours later for a cellar tour and tasting!

There is something to be said about being the old world when you can boast of cellars about 1000 yrs old, all cobwebby, no electrical lighting, wax candle-lit tasting, and in all a bit vampire-style spooky if everyone is wearing black! 🙂 It’s only polite when you buy not one but four bottles! Pity we couldn’t ship back an entire case!

We had the time of our lives, cycling in Burgundy, picture-perfect in every way, on the Véloroute! Enjoy the scenic vistas and do check out the dedicated post from our trip to Burgundy, before planning your next trip (Don’t worry, it’ll happen sooner than you imagine…keep the faith)!

Repose in Bordeaux, in the middle of a vineyard, near St Emillion, was as high as it can go in terms of staycation experiences, and we cannot wait to go and park ourselves there, again! Pictures are worth a thousand words…so here they are!

It’s like a painting!

Can one have enough of cycling? Never, says me, through verdant wine regions, because that is one way to slow down your pace, your thoughts and soak-it-all-in! Here’s cycling through some of the most iconic landmarks of the Loire valley.

Chateâu Chambord, Loire valley, France

Lavaux, Montreux, Switzerland (2015)

Why Turquoise Blue for the Title? You may or may-not wonder but it’s my job to give you all unnecessary trivia.

Close your eyes and imagine vibrant green hills bedecked with grape-laden vines, rolling down to a turquoise-blue Lake-Geneva. The vista around Lavaux region of Switzerland is jaw-dropping in beauty and so exceptional that one has to go there to believe the stunning beauty.

Switzerland is not primarily known as a wine-growing country, because the world is not used to seeing Swiss wines on the aisles of their generic wine-shops. This is because the product is lesser in quantity, but great in quality, and is produced mainly for local consumption within the country, rather than for export. In fact, the Swiss drink a lot of wine per capita, import 2/3rd of the consumed quantity, and for a fun-fact, import more Beaujolais than the whole of the USA.

Spain (2009)

Spain as a wine-growing country is as complex or even more so than France!

Haven’t we all enjoyed a fruity red Tempranillo, one of the most famous red wine varietals, from the famous Rioja region of northern Spain? Cava, the sparkling wine, grown in the regions along the Mediterranean coast, which includes a blend of Garnacha (or Grenache in neighboring France) or the exquisite oaky Dry-Sherry (not the sweet sherry sipped by elderly English ladies) from Jerez de la Frontera, in Andalucia!

Spain is ideally located in terms of latitudes, with its warm to hot climate aptly suited for viniculture and the various influences on the wine-growing process from the neighboring regions.

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Though Rioja in the Basque region is still on the travel bucket list, we visited Sant Sadurní d’Anoia near Barcelona to sample their famous Cava and instead of cycling or driving, ended up on a long walking-trip in the country. Not definitely by design, was too hot to handle but makes for one hell of a reflection!

We drove through the spectacular Andalucian region of southern Spain, bedecked with charming Pueblo Blancos or white villages, stunning countryside dotted with wine and olive groves, ancient Moorish, or Romanesque architecture, and turquoise lakes.

Montefrío, Andalucia, Spain

Andalucia epitomizes the charms of slow-travel, driving through awe-inspiring landscapes and breaking for wine/sherry tasting in tradicional bodegas, during the day.

Checking into a new town every-other-day, exploring street-foods or go on a Tapas-bar hop, in the evening, pairing food with Cerveza or Sangria according to your whim! Later, head out for some foot-tapping flamenco experience or just stroll to a local popular Plaza and soak-in, life-as-a-local!

Setenil de las Bodegas, Spain

If you ever felt like “there’s so much to see, so little time”, you will feel it a 100 times more in Andalucia. Needless to say, pre-planning is your best bet!

Moselle River Valley- Germany (2013)

The Moselle (or Mosel) valley is a region around the river Mosel, meandering through parts of western Germany, eastern France and Luxembourg and is known for its White wines, especially the famous Rieslings from Germany.

What makes this region spectacular and on this list, is the landscape, as distinctive and charming as it gets!

Close those eyes again, and now imagine… hiking through terraced vineyards on hill slopes while the placid river Mosel, calmly meanders below, and a medieval, almost fairytale-like castle sits atop a neighboring hilltop.

Alternatively, imagine cycling along a beautiful track right along the river bed, with bird-song in your ear, dense foliage along the banks, intermittently opening its curtains to panoramic vistas of hillsides adorned with palisading vines.

Pacific Northwest wine regions (Washington and Oregon states)

If you’re wondering what or where’s that…nobody will blame you. The lesser-known of the New World wine regions, over-shadowed by neighboring Californian wines, but holding the fort, are the wines produced in Oregon and Washington states of north-west USA. While Oregon produces Pinot Noir in the majority, inland of Washington, along the Columbia River valley which is warmer in climate, produces a mix of great whites (including Chardonnay) and Reds.

Columbia River Gorge

Having driven along the scenic Pacific Highway 101 in California earlier, we wanted to explore the more rugged northern Pacific coasts and the Olympic peninsula.

Thus, originated the mammoth trip to the North-west pacific (including British Columbia in Canada), including their famous wine regions!

While boarding a flight from Seattle airport, the immigration officer seemed dumb-founded when we said we were visiting Walla-Walla, and he went, “Who the hell visits Walla-Walla”…and hubby goes, “we crazy, wine-loving Indian nomads”. Another, absolutely true story!

One of the kid-friendly wineries

If you consider yourself a traveler and scoff at touristy attractions, you just might understand the charm of visiting places that are off-the-beaten-path! The novelty of visiting unheard-of places, being greeted with warmth, enjoying uncrowded vistas, and never having to come across the terms “booked-out or sold-out” are all, “simple joys of life”. Sampling delectable wines amidst splendid country setting is a top endorphin-releasing experience too!

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Though, “there is so much wine and so little time” …the quest is on, albeit on a corona-break, and hopefully, we’ll be on a road-trip soon, on another continent, driving or cycling through sun-soaked, verdant countryside, sampling wines, cheese, and chocolates, keeping ourselves hydrated, sipping and spitting (part of the 4s’s…sniff, sip, swirl and spit) and minding speed limits.

A wine colored lolly is always a good-idea!
A can, really?

And now it’s time for a workout!


A ride to remember- in Bourgogne.

IMG_6507Beaune will be etched in our minds, amongst other merrier reasons, forever, as the place, where we met with our first ever Road accident, internationally.

To get that out-of-the-way, it was a low velocity impact.. being on country roads, close to Beaune, thankfully the metal took the brunt and the bodies involved were all safe, this incident highlighted the attitude of french..

1. The other party involved who were local french family were much more worried about us, than being bothered about their battered car.

2. The “french” locals as well as the Gendarmerie, won our hearts, with their sympathetic and uber helpful attitude helping us with everything including language constraints.

3. It’s highly advisable to get comprehensive car insurance! Can’t speak about it enough. This made the aftermath so smooth with pick ups and transfer to Dijon, the next big town, and smooth transition to the next car, all arranged by AVIS.

4. Never drink and drive. Especially take care to spit and not swallow if you’re wine tasting in a wine country. A lesser mortal might be tempted to take in a few swigs.. especially if there are Grand Cru and premiere Cru wines from the worlds best wine country, on the offing! But not dear hubby!! I already had enough confidence in him which only peaked after this episode. We were incidentally returning from a wine brunch when this happened. His breath analysis for alcohol came out negative.

5. Never give up, keep faith. Some of the members wanted to give up on the trip.. (imagine!).. but no way were we going to shelve a wonderfully planned journey and we carried on!

Beaune is a beautiful small town in Burgundy (Bourgogne) and also considered its wine capital, nested amidst the lush vineyards of Côte d’Or region.


We travelled from Paris on a Saturday morning so we could visit the weekly market at Beaune centre. Started from Paris about 10:30 and reached about noon.


The market area is divided into a large food plaza and a clothing / home decor section; sifting quickly through the latter we lazily strolled trough the food section, sampling local delectables and picking up freshest of baked goods and veggies, cheeses, mushrooms etc. Bought a whole lot of Truffle and truffle infused products, the regional delicacy of Bourgogne. A quirky thing on sale was dried onion flowers which is crisp and flavorful when sprinkled on salads and dishes.


We unfortunately missed out on the yearly wine fest in village of Volnay on the same morning, held every year about this time. So those travelling in end June should check this out.

Lunch was pre booked at a wonderful restaurant, recommended by a good friend, and is called L’ô à la Bouche. And what a recommendation.. for a perfect sunny brunch, by the side of a tiny brook and a pond with ducklings.. straight out of an Enid Blyton book! Only thing missing was a picnic basket, the lack of which was made up by the delectable lunch in the offing. This reminded me of the song The Perfect day, by Lou Reed!




After lounging about for an extended meal, we laggardly headed to our B&B within town, having chosen this for its proximity to the town centre as well as the bike rentals. Since we’re the “go-getters”, we headed straight out to “Bourgogne Randonees” to pick up our bikes which were previously reserved, since they’re much in demand!


The gentleman at the shop was very helpful but somehow we muddled up the directions that he gave for the bike path. We went round the town at least twice..had some not so serious falls, (first mom, then dad).. which pretty much shelved biking plan on that day!

Not losing hope, we strapped ourselves in the car seats and drove to the nearby village of Pommard, instead of cycling to it.. to meet for an appointment at a winery called Domaine Rebourgeon-Mure. Have to say that the owner, completely floored us by patiently waiting for us to show up for a tasting, beyond usual hours, at least 2 hours after our appointment… thus breaking the ‘myth’ of snooty uptight, french wine makers of burgundy, worlds oldest wine country! Here we could venture into a true vine cellar, centuries old with moldy dusty walls, cobwebs and candles, thankfully did not bump into any vampires!! Picked up couple of delicious Premiere Cru wines from this winemaker.


Day 2 was devoted to visiting nearby villages and their famous wine makers. These include Puligny Montrachet, Aloxe-Corton and Meursault.



Serendipitously ventured into an amazing restaurant in Meursault called Chez Richard, where we sampled the famous Epoisses cheese and the regional delicacy, the escargot!


After sating our appetite, and not sure about the next plan.. we decided to again give cycling a go. Having experienced other wine countries on a bike, we didn’t want to miss out on this experience in the french country.

So instead of renting the bike in town centre, we researched and reached Bougogne Evasion, located very close to the entrance gate of the Véloroute (bike-path) and thus minimising chances of our getting lost again!!

A pillared gate welcomes cyclists to the -Véloroute of Voie des Vignes, and right after entering, one is transported to serene, lush wine country surrounded by pallisading rows of verdant green vines and clear blue skies.


The stillness is interrupted only by the whirring of the bicycle wheels, chirping of the birds and the camera clicks! It’s a perfect detox for an urban dweller.


Being later in the day and considering the fitness levels of all, we chose to bike the shortest path from Beaune to Pommard, a short 20-30 minute ride, the terrain being mostly flat, with mild undulations. Path to village of Volnay is quiet steep and we skipped it. Do remember that wine countries are hot and sunny so be prepared with caps, sunscreen and lots of water, as there are no pit-stops between villages. Another point to remember is that cycling/ walking path is through vineyards but there’s no wine tasting rooms in between. Tasting is localised at abundant wine shops and in cellars in the villages or available with meals in the restaurants, latter being a wonderful idea after a bit of exercise 😊

Done with cycling, we had only managed to touch 4 o’clock on the watch, with the sun shining brightly and too early to call it a day. Guess what? We decided to visit Dijon, a half an hour ride away from Beaune. Despite knowing that Dijon is a big town, we were quite overwhelmed by its size and the traffic on the roads. I guess we were lucky that it was a Sunday and there were no major traffic snarls!

Since we were running against time, we headed straight to the town centre to see the Notre Dame cathedral and to follow the famous Owl Trail.


Within the city centre are many owl plaques, engraved on the pavement with numbers, guiding the tourists around many important landmark including the cathedral. One can buy a book from the town centre or easier, can download a mobile app, which tells in detail about every structure/ monument on the trail.

Saying goes that if you spot and touch the owl on a corner wall, at the end of the trail, it’s supposed to be lucky in getting you back to Dijon!


Another incident to remember, happened in Dijon, where for some reason our parking ticket was defective and we were sort of trapped in an underground parking. Again, a helpful local Frenchman, who didn’t understand a word of English, came to our rescue!!

We started the next and last day in Bourgogne, on a spicy note by a visit to the famous, Edmond Fallot Moutarderie, a mustard factory/ shop.. famous for the Dijon mustard! Bought few varieties of mustard and other products.

Following this, we set course for the adjacent commune (region) of Nuits-Saint-Georges. Both Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits-Saint-Georges are the famous wine regions in Burgundy (Bourgogne) with the former popular for its Chardonnay and the latter for its Pinot Noir wines!

bourgogne map
map obtained from this “website”


It’s fascinating trying to understand the French wine appellation system. Breaking it down very, very broadly, the lowest in class would be a Regional wine (for example a bottle saying Bourdeaux or Burgundy), followed by Subregional category (example Côte de Beaune), followed by Village wine (example Pommard in Côte de Beaune) and finally the top most category is a single Domaine or vineyard. Then ofcourse there are Grand Cru (Burgundy regions best wines) and Premiere Cru (second best wines). Best refer to THE INTERNET for the same!

Go figure!



We did another wine tasting in Vosné Romanée, at Domaine Bernard Rion and bought some more wines for consumption! Hubby dear believes in bringing some back and I’m always worried about the Packing!


DH had earlier reserved a 4 course wine lunch at Olivier Leflaive. They serve a basic lunch menu to highlight the wine, but despite knowing this, ‘the vegetarians’ were disappointed with the serving of Boiled beans and cheese. At least, dear hubby enjoyed the Beouf Bourgogne with the paired Grand Cru andPremiere Cru wines.

One can also do Truffle hunting with tasting in this region, but the same wasn’t available on the dates when we were in the region.


To summarize, Burgundy was wonderful; the highlights being the cycling through the vineyards and the Pinot Noir! Hoping we’ll be back soon, especially with the blessings of the Dijon Owl.

Fall foliage trip-New England region- 2012

We have been obsessed with the fall colours for as long as I remember…seeing them on TV, movies, cards, calendars…but never having experienced it live, as Delhi, or the northern part of India, barely has any classical “seasons”…being limited with very hot and dry, long summer months, few rain showers in the name of “Monsoons” and hardly two months of cold weather called “winter”.
Hence, the wish to experience the beauty of nature and weathers… to see the cherry blossom of spring, fall foliage in autumn and the snow white beauty of winter! 

After seeing my brother’s pictures of his fall foliage trip, we were quite taken with the idea of a leaf peeping trip! Read about “Leaf peepers” who follow the changing colours from region to region. We decided to plan a trip “sometime” and shelved it. 

This year (2012) we got an opportunity as we had to travel to Washington DC on business, end of September, seemingly the perfect time to experience this Nature’s phenomenon!! So we promptly planned a trip to New England region, famous for the most vibrant fall colours in Northern America.
Hubby dear, planned a trip flying through Amsterdam, going on to DC, flying to Buffalo, Niagara falls, driving to Niagara on the falls in Canada, drive back, go to the Finger lakes, (wine tasting !!) then fly to Burlington, drive on a fall foliage trip & fly back from Boston.. Whew!! That was tiring, just writing it.. Keeping me and my interests in mind, he promptly modified the plans. We finally did DC-Boston-Stowe-North Conway-Boston.

We flew Swiss, via Zurich.. and I learnt an important lesson the hard way..Zurich duty-free is one of the most expensive ones.. A bottle of J’ adore, absolute for 200$.. WT**^&&**! I wasn’t really paying attention to the price, getting lost in the fragrances…only after making the purchase did I realise the foolishness of the whole deal! The ordeal didn’t end there…as soon as I took out the bottle to use it, dropped it on the floor, thankfully not breaking the bottle but majorly denting the metallic nob!

After winding up business n sightseeing in DC, we took a flight to Boston n then picked up a rental car to drive off straight to Stowe, Vermont. As usual DH at the last moment, upgraded the car, against my practical wishes…getting a beaut .. A Buick..


Hubby had researched and learnt that the more north and east we go, and the higher we go, the more colour we see…he booked us in Stowe, Vermont, which is a skiing resort and we decided to work ourselves east and south to New Hampshire in October (the best time to visit for fall colors is the second Monday of October- Columbus Day weekend, which also is the most expensive and difficult to get accommodation). Hubby kept reminding me not to expect too much colour or get disappointed if we see only Green!!

So without many expectations…we headed to Stowe, which is a skiing resort. Imagine our delight when we started seeing color enroute, in New Hampshire.. We didn’t find any great eats on the way. Stopped for fuel n loo, at Salem NH, Concorde NH, and Sharon VT..and had lots of trail mix.. (muesli, almonds, cashews, pista, sunflower seeds, nuts, cranberries, dates, figs, and prunes). We did have some good cider doughnuts at Concorde NH..

We were trying to reach Stowe by 3Pm, as Oktoberfest was being celebrated in this town, that day! However, we got late, stopped here n there.. Reaching Waterbury, a small town proximal to Stowe, by 4:30 PM. DH had (as always) researched about multiple local points of interest, one of them being the “Cold Hollow Cider Mill”.

Pumpkins at the entrance and pumpkin spice in the air .. Pumpkin spice for the uninitiated is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger, that is the essence of pumpkin pie.. Here, we tasted their famous Cider Donuts (which did not live upto the fame), the hot n cold (disappointing, apple juice) apple cider, multiple jams n relishes as well as fudge; the latter two, making up for the disappointing former items!! Ended up buying couple of absolutely delicious sauces, namely the maple mustard and maple-zucchini relish!! We then took the obligatory photos of with pumpkins! The rest of the attractions including wine tastings were shut down by this time..  

Predictably, everything’s shut after 5, so we weren’t planning on doing or seeing much in Stowe that evening. Also DH was tired, hungry, looking forward to a wine cheese hour, at our lodge, The Stone hill inn, Stowe.  
But I was enticed by some colourfully decorated crafts shops in town, which seemed very inviting!! Antique n Craft shops are something I can’t resist..n thankfully hubby dear has come to accept this in Life (I allows him the tastings and he allows me gift shops) !! Grudgingly he parked the car, we plodded in the rain towards the shops n got an incidental benefit of spotting our very first Covered bridge!! These covered bridges are famous Vermont landmarks…some 250 of these authentic ones in existence.. unique because of their covered architecture, in various shapes n sizes (red or brown, functional or not).

Covered Bridge, Stowe
I had to buy something…so bought a maple leaf shaped Pewter salt cellar. Stepped out and saw another pretty craft shop…seemingly a famous one called “Stowe Craft”.  There were pretty glazed ceramic wine glasses, coffee mugs and incredible night lamps, with printed scenes that projected beautifully.. All funnily enough from Oregon (and none of the beautiful  stuff was from Vermont !) we ended up spending some more precious dollars on glazed pottery goblets n mugs!!

Happy & satisfied, we proceeded, finally, towards Stone hill Inn, where we were booked for next 3 nights. Met by our cheerful inn-keepers George and inc.. I expected it to be a boutique, small scale B & B, but was pleasantly surprised to see a luxury resort! 

Entrance to the inn..

We were floored by our room which was humungous with a huge bathroom, separate wash basins for his and her, a twin Jacuzzi, a two way fire-place and backdoor, opening onto a lush garden (with some more coloured trees)!


George helped us in getting reservations at a local fine dining restaurant called the “Michael’s on the hill”

This happened to have a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian tasting menu, which we though would suit our appetites, perfectly. The first course for me was Roasted Mushroom Soup with Lemon Thyme & Artisan Cheese Croutons ( loads of soup, and when I requested it to be shared with hubby, got translated into two separate portions for the both of us) while DH’s first course was -Local Greens with Roasted Pumpkin, Cloth Bound Cheddar & Cider Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette (green stuff with some tasty bits, but mostly grass). The second vegetarian course was Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Fall Vegetables, Shallot Confit, Browned Sage Butter & Local Cheese (this came out as a layer of cheese stuck to gnocchi, with watery confit at the bottom- texture that didn’t impress me much…I don’t really love French Onion soup) while non-veg course consisted of Roasted Winding Brook Farm Pork Loin with Brussels Sprouts, Fig & Gruyère Bread Pudding& Whole Grain Mustard Sauce(the Gruyere bread pudding was tasty but too heavy). Our desserts (we were overfull by this stage) were El rey Chocolate fondue (this was yummy, with loads of sponge cake, fruits etc to dip hot chocolate into) and the mistake, Apple & Blueberry Crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream (this was like apple crumble and too much for our groaning tummies)
Next day we had planned to do some hiking on Stowe’s many trails…but the weather was antagonistic to the plan and it was a heavy rainy day!!

So we decided to drive on the scenic route 108, towards the smuggler’s notch, which is a mountain pass, located in the Mount Mansfield National Forest, named so, because of some smuggling & Boot-legging activities through this region, predominantly in the prohibition times of early 19’s, via Canada! This region, in my opinion, had peaked in colour at that moment, as it was so vivid and breathtakingly beautiful that we spent better half of the morning, stopping n clicking innumerable pictures! This was the first time, that we witnessed the “Autumn colours” on this trip & fell overwhelmed by this Nature’s spectacle!!

Going forward, reached Cambridge, another small town in Vermont, where we (actually DH, as he can’t ever go on a vacation without visiting some winery in that region) had planned to stop-over at the Boyden valley winery, famous for its Iced wines (dessert wine, made from frozen grapes) called “Vermont Ice”. Other than the iced wines, the apple liqueur and the mulled wine, went into the shopping cart!!

Feeling content, my husband drove onwards to the largest town in Vermont called Burlington, along lake champlain. This could have been a nice touristy spot, with many activities on the lake side, had it been a nice sunny day! But, alas, it was pouring by the time we found a parking spot, n rushed to a nearby restaurant to find shelter. This turned out to be an Italian joint called “three tomatoes” n had some good pizzas!! The rain hadn’t abated when we finished our meal…we tried to stroll around the market…in a way a letdown.. we nature lovers were not really keen on a biggish town experience, that early in the trip…and trudged back in a glum mood towards the car park..heading back towards Stowe!

Back at the inn, in time for the evening wine n cheese hour, we were, uncharacteristically, not in a very social mood, picked up our wine glasses and chose to lounge around in the living room. There’s a nice DVD collection to choose from and we spent the evening cosily in bed, ordering in some Pizzas and watching movies.
2nd day in Stowe was again overcast, practically ruling out some proper hiking! We thought of going up to Mt Mansfield, but the kind old lady at the toll booth warned us against the ride, what with dense fog, obscuring all possible valley views.
After many considerations, a drive on the scenic route 100 was decided upon, keeping in mind few lakes n ponds that we wished specifically to visit for photography! So we drove n drove, shooting away to glory, without reaching any water body for a very long time…till we got really bored n hopped off the car at a point marked “ Mad river hiking trail”. This was off the main road and we seemed to be only ones around. 

After hiking for a bit, unexpectedly chanced upon a small pond where we got our very first breathtaking shots of foliage reflections in the water… 

….contented for the day, we started hiking back to the parking lot when I suddenly heard a low grumbling noise..was just starting to wonder what..when the sound suddenly appeared louder and closer. We had seen enough landmarks saying “Bear Trail” or “BEAR Crossing”.. and we literally ran to the car… avoiding a potential close encounter with a live bear!

After this not so pleasant adventure, we drove on some more, detoured to a side road, marked scenic route… which was worth the drive! By this time we had had enough of foliage for the day and quickly took the fastest shortest way back to stowe, no more interested in any ponds or lakes!! Passed by the Ben’n’Jerry’s ice cream factory which seemed bustling with tourist’s n gave it a mis

Stopped at the Cabot farm for some cheese tasting and tried the Lake Champlain chocolates, nex door! One of the “bestest” hot mocha latte that we’ve ever had was at this chocolaterie..what with perfect temperature, and perfect balance of sweet n bitter!! (which our server made sure using a kitchen thermometer)..

….came back to stowe and did some cool shopping!!

Town of Stowe

Not wanting to still call it a day… we decided to pay a quick visit to the Trapp family lodge, having heard about their brewery with delicious locally brewed beer and some awesome valley views. … For a change, the experience lived upto the expectations!! This is the same, Sound of Music fame, Trapp Family who eventually came and settled in Vermont!

Awesome Valley view from the brewery at Trapp Family Lodge!

Perfect setting atop a hillock.. the most awesome views of the valley were to be had here, at a perfect time of the day, that is dusk.. with tasting of four Austrian beers (as a part of Oktoberfest- Oktoberfest beer, an Austrian Wheat beer, a stout, and a lavender beer). DH tried the “bratwurst”, a german-austrian sausage, to make the entire experience more authentic!

This would have been a great way to wind up a fruitful day..but alas..the quest for the perfect finale…DH, in best of faith, wanted me to have a nice vegetarian meal, as I  could not really have anything at the brewery. He had read about a nice vegetarian restaurant, called the Mint, in Waitsfield, doing innovative cuisine (lot more than the standard cheese, pasta n vegetables for us poor vegetarians). Since we were already in Stowe and had driven around enough for the day, I wasn’t so keen but DH insisted and seeing the love in his eyes, I agreed upon the 45 minute drive back, through pich dark country roads .. By the time we reached Waitsfield, it was already dark, the town was much smaller than expected and nobody seemed to have heard about this restaurant.. got lost, made the stupid mistake of not finding the exact address or the phone number, made no reservation and hence a total disaster. An idea occurred and we called our hosts at the stone hill lodge, requesting us to find the address online, fed it into the GPS n promptly found the place on the very next turn! However,… the restaurant was deserted, no lights, folded chairs,, n we learnt the hard way that this restaurant was usually closed on Mondays n Tuesdays!!! Little can one imagine our plight, especially my sweethearts, whose only intention was to delight me!! So we drove back, on a dark, scary road back, with no streetlights, bought some take away pizza n plonked ourselves on the bed!!

Woke up late next morning, had another scrumtuous breakfast at the inn and started packing up!  As was a norm throughout the trip, the day that was assigned for inter-city travel was always a nice bright sunny day!! Seeing the weather, we decided to again give Mt Mansfield a try, before setting course towards New Hampshire. Obviously every other tourist thought the same and by the time we reached the toll booth, there was a long line of vehicles queuing up to climb! 

Queueing up to climb Mt Mansfield! 

After waiting nearly 45 minutes, finally started the slow drive up the mountain…we had read about this being a hair raising ride.. And it was wimpy compared to Indian roads, thus was a cake walk.. With every car being very polite, giving way to upcoming traffic.. 

Got some awesome views on the way up, but by the time we climbed to the top, a dense fog had started rolling in, obscuring the  views, yet again!! That was the hard luck, but we were not the ones to be dismnayed by these small occurrences, n we made the most of the experience by clicking away as many pictures as we could… frankly, slightly cloudy overcast day was better for photography than a harsh sunlit day!!
We climbed down by 2 O’clock, were already late by all standards and decided to pack Subways to be had on the way, not wanting to waste any more time!

Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Massachussets are part of a region called New England. I was asking DH, as to what exactly was our plan in North Hampshire, as we had already seen enough of good foliage colors in Vermont… me not understanding the point of seeing anymore!!
Two of the most scenic routes in North Hampshire are the 112 (popularly the Kancamagus scenic byway or just Kanc, in the White Mountain National Forest region) and NH 302. To reach north Conway, our local destination, we could choose from either of these routes from Lincoln. Since it was already getting late for the day and “Kanc” is supposed to be scenic n slow, we decided upon taking a relatively faster yet scenic route 302!! We did see the Kanc next day, but if asked to choose between the two.. I would say “do both”!! 302, though an interstate, has some breathtaking views!

Only after entering the NH territory, did I realize why leaf peepers, throng this region of New England. There is no comparison between VT n NH, VT has beautiful foliage colors, mainly shades of yellow n orange but NH has such vivid reds, violets and shades of pink (depending upon the sugar content in the maple leaves), which need to be seen to be believed!!

We reached north Conway by 6:30 or so, had an easy n friendly check in at Wyatt House country Inn, by a gregarious hostess Elaine. 

Out of the many eat-out recommendations given by her, we were glad we chose “Moat’s”.. a gastro-pub, a very busy place, expansive cuisine with many vegetarian options n free wifi!! We could do video-chat with family back home while having dinner!! And DH could do a great beer tasting from their microbrewery!!

Next day, which was, predictably, overcast, we set out late and decided to cover some local trails, instead of heading towards Kanc!! Got directions from the inn-keeper and headed towards a popular waterfall called Diana’s bath…instead reached another breathtaking view point… called the Cathedral Ledge which is a popular rock climbing destination with a spectacular lookout to the echo lake!! 

 Easily accessed by a winding road to the top of  the hillock! We spent an hour or so just sitting and soaking in the vista, the weather gods obliged for a change with the sun shining intermittently and we could get a few nice pictures!! DH and I had a major argument at this point…as he accidently deleted a few pictures…the argument continuing all the way to Diana’s bath… which was a bit difficult to find and by the time we reached the start of the was pouring!! Decided to give it a miss and headed back to Moat’s for a nice hot lunch!! Obviously a contented tummy translates into a contended soul and our moods drastically improved…the sun reappeared and we finally could hike back to Diana’s bath!!

By the time we finished, it was already about 5 O’clock! Both of us knew that if we went back to the B & B…we would not get out again…feeling tired and cold at the same time!! A major part of the attraction in North Conway was the tax-free shopping at “Settlers Green” so we (mainly to please me) decided to head there, straight! It was already dark, we were already tired so scoped out a few outlets, collected the maps and decided to come again next day…

On the way back, we spotted an Indiana restaurant called “Shalimar” that out hostess was raving about. Though, by choice, we avoid Indian food during our vacations, being more interested in local cuisine, as we did not seem to have too many options, we decided to give it a try… predictably, the food was very spicy, even by our standards and we both had a difficult night with heartburn!!

Come next day, and the weather was still playing up!! Heavily overcast with predictions of a lot of rain….we headed towards the “Kanc” which can be accessed via a bypass on 302, near Bartlett, called the Bear notch road! 

Passed by Jacksonville, celebrating Return of the pumpkin people!!

Though the day was very dreary, very wet n cold… we did stop at many of the scenic viewpoints, well marked on the trail including the sabbaday falls, the lily pond and the franconian notch!

Sabbaday Falls
The Kancamagus highway
               fog rolling in..but still breathtakingly beautiful!!
Mount Washington Valley 

At this point, I am falling short of adjectives, not wanting to reuse the awesome, breathtaking, scenic ones again! But the ride was one of a lifetime and no words can describe the brilliant vistas that kept rolling in at every turn of the road!! 

Franconia Notch State Park

We drove down again on 302, completing the loop, and gladly stopped for photo-ops that we seemed to have missed on the previous day!!

Conway Scenic Railroad
The Lunch was another Pizza place in Lincoln (midway junction between Kanc and 302). Their hot steaming mushroom soup was just what the doctor recommended on this wet-wet day!! DH spotted a wine shop.. having read about tax-free liquor shopping and bought couple of delicious reds!!

Saw another historical covered bridge in Bartlett…and realised why they are such popular landmarks of this region!

Wiley House Historical Site 
Happy feet..happy souls!!
Next day we started on the last leg of our journey, from New Hampshire, towards Boston, thus bringing us to the end of our foliage trip.. yet another trip to remember!!