above the clouds

International Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Notes of a Curious Traveler, Exploring Northeast Spain

Barcelona-Caldes-de-Montbui (6)

After leaving my brothers friend's Catamaran dry docked in the port of Canet France - I drove several hours to Barcelona. I arrived in the center of town - which was very crowded with narrow streets and no parking spots. One must have nerves of steel to drive here - I finally found an underground parking garage, one of the smallest I've ever been in - I had to make a 10-point turn or something numerically similar to that - just to get into and … [Read more...]

Saskatchewan, Moldovan Wine Cave & a Saskatoon Restaurant: How do they all Connect?

Ayden-Saskatoon (2)

As we descended onto the twinkling lights of Saskatoon below we flew next to a significant lightning storm. Jagged bolts of lightning lit up massive thunderheads for a moment - alternating between bright white and pink light. This lightning is the cause of hundreds of fires that are burning out of control in the northern part of the province having displaced some 13,000 people. The economy seems to be doing well here according to my driver … [Read more...]

In Love With Pint-Sized Andorra

Cami-de-la-Curruba-Andorra (1)

We stood on the rocky outcrop above the tiny parking lot next to the consul generals office in old Andorra la Vella and heard the distinctive sound of a rooster crowing in the distance. The shrill came from across the narrow valley high up on the steep hillsides. It echoed in clear contrast to the continuous low thrum of the city. We followed the bird's call until we were soon climbing narrow stone walkways leaving us high above the valley … [Read more...]

A Few Interesting Notes About the Country of Andorra

Andorra-Europe (7)

The population of Andorra is only approximately 85,000 people. We can see why; much of this small country is mountainous with steep hillsides and equally steep gorges. The engineering on their road system is rather impressive; we drove through several large round abouts raised entirely above steep gorges with several tunnels joining from various rock cliffs in a number of directions - all meeting in one particular roundabout. We drove several … [Read more...]

Winding our Way to Andorra La Vella

Andorra (2)

We arrived at the summit pass between France and Andorra and were greeted by thick fog. Opting to pay the €6 tunnel fee (rather than driving up over the ridge on the old very windy road) we were very surprised when we burst through the tunnel into brilliant blue skies and sunshine radiating all around us. A long valley lay below us with jagged still snow covered peaks surrounding. It was like going from a June Gloom Malibu California day where … [Read more...]

Exploring the Memorable Lombrives Cave in Ariege France

Lombrives-Cave-France (4)

We woke up early, and after a quick breakfast departed the Viking Cruise Ship (the past 8 days we were on a Bordeaux River Cruise) and promptly picked up a car at the Bordeaux airport. We tried to extend it a single day but were utterly shocked when we were quoted an extra €2,500 for just this one extra day! We experienced further agitation when we found the car completely dirty as well as a window covered with dead bugs. We headed out of … [Read more...]

The Beauty of Bordeaux Revealed

The fairly tale looking Château Pichon Longueville

Today was arguably the highlight of our visit to Bordeaux as part of our Viking River Cruise, (Château, Rivers & Wine). We spent the day touring the Left Bank (Gironde River) of Bordeaux including Medoc and Pauillac, Saint-Julien, and Margaux. I don't think I've ever seen as much white river cobble as I have in the vineyards of the Medoc region. It seems the higher the volume of these rocks in the soil, the higher the quality of wines and the … [Read more...]

Crossing the Pond, Start of Bordeaux Viking Cruise

viking-cruise (5)

Usually when I have a bulkhead seat I end up with families seated nearby; I have always referred to these seats as 'bulkhead babies' as a number of flights I've been seated here next to crying babies. Fortunately there were no crying babies seated next to me. The only eventful happening was about half through the flight in the darkened cabin - I jumped up in my seat startled by a loud noise. It turns out a woman had fainted and crashed to the … [Read more...]

Exploring the World’s Two Largest Wine Caves & Wine Collections, Moldova

Mold is common on the wine bottles that age in the wine caves for many years

I first read about Moldova's ancient winery history several years ago in an inflight magazine while jetting over the skies of Finland somewhere. The thousands of years of wine making history certainly appealed to me as well as the fact Moldova is home to the largest underground wineries in the world. While stumbling through the streets of Chisinau after being dropped off by the bus from the airport I spotted a little tourist office called Simgal … [Read more...]

A Few Musings on First Night in Moldova

Orthodox Church in Chisinau

Sometimes you meet inspiring travelers while on the road - such was the case this evening in Chisinau, Moldova. I met a young woman traveler from Japan who took bought a 50CC motorbike in Irkutsk Russia and rode it some 14,000 kilometers solo from Russia to the Romanian Moldova border. She had stories of her time on the road as a trip of this length will invariably create. She camped much of the time but when it was raining or otherwise bad … [Read more...]