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Here are some photos of the sights around Haut-Medoc and the chateaux that we passed on our drives through the region.

From Blanquefort, we drove north on D2 along the river, passing Macau (where we stocked up on cheeses and crackers), Margaux, Saint-Julien, and Pauillac. We did not go further up to Saint-Estephe. Each of the villages producing wine has its own tourist information center (maison). There are 8 appellations in Medoc (Medoc, Saint-Estephe, Haut-Medoc, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Listrac-Medoc, Moulis and Margaux), all producing AOC wines.

We stopped at Margaux to visit Chateau Ferriere (see earlier post) and had lunch at Le Savoie (nothing remarkable).

In the Medoc region, a total of 60 Grand Cru Classé wines were included in the 1855 Official Classification.

Pauillac visiter center with a giant unlabelled bottle.

Along the way, we stopped briefly at Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac.

The chateau was built in 1851 in Renaissance style with two turrets.

In front of the chateau are two ornamental pools, which with a blue sky created a Margrittesque canvas.

The wine of Pichon Baron was recognized in the 1855 classification as Second Growths (Deuxièmes Crus).

We walked in the grounds of Chateau Beychevelle, Saint-Julien.

Missed the tour but loved the garden.

The wine of Beychevelle was recognized in the 1855 classification as Fourth Growths (Quartrièmes Crus).

A typical scene of a generic Bordeaux vineyard and chateau. No idea now where in Medoc was this taken.

Voilà, les vignobles Bordelais.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After reaching our westernmost destination on our Alps-Atlantic trip at Biarritz (click here to see related posts), we came back via Bordeaux and stopped for a few days to explore the area.

The Cité du Vin is a museum as well as a place of exhibitions and academic seminars on the theme of wine located in the city of Bordeaux.

The building, meant to suggest a decanter, was designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières of XTU architects.

La Cite du Vins was official opened by the President, François Hollande on May 31, 2016. So the place is not even a year old, it is brand new.

The building has 8 floors with most of the exhibition spaces and classrooms on the lower floors.

In an open exhibition space occupying more than 3,000 m², nearly twenty different themed areas invite you to take a voyage of discovery and enjoy a unique experience exploring the many and varied facets of wine across time and space.

One can spend hours watching, listening, and even smelling the exhibits. There is so much media content to be consumed.

One darkened area has several tables where visitors can sit around and watch a virtual host explain various topics – history, entertaining, food pairing.

The table is actually a screen and the image changes continuously – sometimes it is a dining table but it could morph into another image seamlessly and quickly.

There were several tables that allow visitors to discern the aromas present in a wine. A squeeze of the small black rubber bulb releases the aroma which can be inhaled from the copper horn.

This part of the exhibition was unique in that they provided many different sources of aroma.

We participated in a multi-sensory workshop where we tasted several wines, learnt about its origin (not all were French) and pairing with food around the world. It is “multi-sensory” because certain aromas were sprayed into the room to invoke a sense of a place and its food which were projected on surround screen.

The workshop was entertaining and its delivery employed state of the art technology.

There are 2 restaurants. We did not eat there. Our entry ticket include a free glass of wine to be enjoyed at the belvedere which affords a 360 degree view of the northern end of Bordeaux city and the river Garonne.

“Downtown” direction view of the city of Bordeaux.

There is a souvenir shop “La Boutique” which sells every wine-related gifts one can imagine.

Next to it is the wine store which stocks thousands of bottles from around the world. Not just Bordeaux or French, a truly comprehensive international collection.

We spent almost the entire day here. The city really did a good job in creating this museum to educate and promote wine culture, and giving adults the sense of fun that kids have in a themed amusement park.

The 86th International Motor Show was held in Geneva from March 9 to 19 this year. Since we recently changed our car, the dealer sent us a set of tickets to the show and invited us to the brand’s pavilion for a snack and drinks and check out the latest models.

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It was impossible to take photos of the cars without 20 or 30 persons standing next to it. To show off the cars, there were floodlights and spotlights every where. Then we noticed some very interesting headlights and taillights. And here they are.

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Some of them looked as if they are made with double-digits carat gemstones.

Shine bright like a diamond
Shine bright like a diamond

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Find light in the beautiful sea
I choose to be happy
You and I, you and I
We’re like diamonds in the sky.

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We went to the show several years ago and the set up is more or less the same.  The stands exhibiting garage equipment and car accessories are placed near the entrance near the train station. So they get a lot of foot traffic. The pavilions of the car manufacturers are in the main halls.

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It was the last weekend so the place was packed. In the main hall, the walkways were so packed with people gawking and snapping photos that it was not possible to walk normally. Sue really did not like the surging crowds, nor did I.  It felt unsafe: the thought of stampede and the risk of catching a respiratory ailment from someone in the crowd.

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Despite the crowds, we did see some very nice and shiny cars.

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Toyota and Lexus had some very sharp-looking angular lights – quite different from those developed by the Germans.

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Some do look like animal’s eyes.

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LED lights certainly changed the whole industry allowing the designers to come up with aesthetically interesting lights that presumably outperform the last generation.

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carlights-12The taillights have also received an update.  A classic corvette below.

carlights-13Guess which brand of car is this ?

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This was a Toyota Prius 5th or 6th generation.

 

Alright, that all folks !

We are caught a bit off guard when the admin page of WordPress indicated that our next post will be the six hundredth (600th) that we published. As previously said several times, we are surprised that the interest in keeping up this blog has not fizzled out over the last 5 years. True it is, that we are still living in Europe and away from our friends and families, the primary reason for starting the blog. But we also find that this blog is a convenient medium to capture and frame memories of our time in Switzerland and our travels, and it became a habit and a hobby (at least for Chris).

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The blog was launched on November 4, 2009. The first trip ever reported here was our visit of Playa de Carmen, Mexico in November 2009 (click here to see). We had not yet left the US at that time but were starting to pack our belongings and worried about the move.

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Fast forward to now, posts on our quick tour of three cities – Taormina, Siracusa (Ortigia) and Catania – on the east coast of Sicily, taken during Easter, are under preparation now. Our most recent visit to Berlin and Copenhagen earlier this month has not yet been written up. Most of the photos are still in Raw format.

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Since March 2013, we have been posting a series of photos on Facebook, one a day except Sunday and Thursday when the blog is updated. There is no theme – just something random and per se visually interesting. They are essentially pictures that did not make the blog for some reasons. We gave each a serial number, a minimally-worded title and a mention of where it was taken (to the extent we could remember the location). But we wanted to share them with the readers here too – so we started showing 5 of them in a post – somewhat irregularly. This is the first of the series – #1 – “the history of cool” –  Munich.

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So far we have shown about 150 of them here, but on Facebook, we are at #444 – there is a backlog of almost 300 random photos! On days when we are not writing the blog, these photos could keep the blog going for a while. This is #443 – “dark 3” – Taormina.

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The readership of this blog has stabilized at around 50-70 views per day. Apart from posting a link in Facebook, Twitter and Google+ each time a post goes public, we made little attempts to drive up the statistics. We also signed up Pinterest but have not seen much changes (perhaps we are not leveraging the site properly). But other people have pinned our photos on pinterest.  So if you do not feel like writing a comment, pin a photo.

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Recently, we noticed that the page view of one of our posts in April on eating durian on the street of Petaling Jaya (click here to see) has gone through the roof (more than 120 views last week alone and maintaining the momentum). It must have caught the attention of certain netizens in Malaysia (as reflected in WordPress statistics), and got linked to an index or a popular site.

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The reigning champion of page views is still our first post on HSBC’s poster ads as seen around major airports in 2010 (click here). Its two siblings are receiving decent traffic too.

This blog has changed its theme (a WordPress term for the overall look and feel of the blog) only once which happened within the first month of its launch. So the appearance remains constant for the last few years and it is getting a bit aged. But we are hesitant to change to a more modern theme as it could affect somewhat unpredictably the old posts. More experimenting is needed (if we have more time).

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One day we might want to make a book (or several books) using these photos, like the ones we did for Yellowstone National Park and Iceland back in 2007.

We have been buying books showing photos of a city “then and now” or aerial views of an area.

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Before signing off, we want to thank our readers for their interest and support, and Susie who has been responding to our posts consistently and ranks No. 1 with the highest number of comments.

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Your feedback is important as it is the only way we know someone is reading the blog. So please comment, like, retweet, follow, clip, subscribe, pin, bookmark, repost or do some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. In the meantime, we will continue to share words and images of our adventures.

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Cheers.

My (Chris’s) eyesight is not getting better and as a result, I have to change the prescription on my lens – it is getting thicker but not quite coke-bottle thick. I changed my glasses about six months ago.

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I wrote about my loyalty to the ic! berlin brand of eyeglass here – click to see the other models I wore in the last 8 or so years.

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I am sticking with this German, handmade-in-Berlin (handgefertigt in eigener herstellung, berlin) brand a third time around. In retrospect, the shape and curvature of my first pair were quite special; the second and now third are quite similar to each other and somewhat conventional.

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It was a bit of a decision since they are well known for their light-weight frames made with sheet metal, as were my two earlier purchases. Now I am trying one of their plastic model.

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The plastic model still uses their unique screw-less hinge that works by the springiness of the metal. Having a white middle layer seems very popular at the moment as many brands are coming out with it.

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The frame is made with a three-layer sandwich of acetate resins – the one closest to the face is translucent light grey-ish blue, the middle layer is white and the outermost is imitation turtle shell. It is a big, size 56 frame.

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The frame did not come with a nose bridge but the store ordered one from the factory specially for me.

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The model is named Harmonic Oscillator and there is even a little diagram etched on the inner side of the frame to illustrate the concept. I have no idea how this concept is connected with the design of this frame. My first pair was named “roman” and the second pair was named “hotel neutor”.

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The limbs of the frame are partially metallic and are finished with a matt brown coating (it says black although it is really dark dark brown to me). On closer inspection, the coating on the metallic part reflects multi-color light. Look at the spots of colors on the edges.

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I am quite happy with it and hopefully my eyesight does not deteriorate too quickly.

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The brand’s website is here. It appears that they now offer a factory tour, I will definitely check the place out when I am next in Berlin (hopefully in May 2015).