torsdag 30 juni 2011

On of my lifetime dreams...

Were actuated yesterday. I can now cross of Maids of the Mist boatride into the Horse Shoe Fall in Niagra Falls.

Location:Fallsview Blvd,Niagara Falls,Kanada

Happy birthday K2

It's K2's Birthday today. I know she is hard at work renovating her new house, but I hope she takes a couple of minutes and has some cake!
Happy Birthday!

Karoleen - Photographer © 2005-2011 All Rights Reserved.
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Canada day 9

We had decided to take an early morning so that we'd have as much daylight as possible on our trip to Niagra Falls, one of my "See before you die" locations. We had a few stops on the road planned as well and the driving time to Niagra (on the Canadian side) is about 7 h and 20 m, without stops. So wheels up at a couple of minutes to 6 a.m. Outside temperature 19 C.

As soon as we turned on the radio, they played our song: The Proclaimers - 500 Miles. It was kind of a good sign I guess ;-) And also that was pretty much 500 miles to our destination of Niagra Falls.

Andy's parents thought that it was a really long trip to Niagra Falls to do on such a short period of time, but since we are quite used to a lot of driving, to us it wasn't to bad. From Montreal to Toronto it is about 550 km and then another couple hundred km from Toronto to Niagra Falls.

The weather was sunny but as we started going west we realized that the clouds were getting grayer and darker. We started eating our breakfast, brought from home, Baby Bel Cheddar and egg sandwiches that MiL (Mother-in-Law) had made for us the night before.

Then it started to rain cats and dogs. There was no stopping, but we didn't really care. We had breakfast and were on our way to a magical place. At around 7 a.m. We passed the border from Quebec to Ontario (another Canadian province, English-speaking). We stopped at the On Route Service Area (kind of like a chain of rest stops in Ontario) where they usually have several restaurants and usually a Tim Hortons. We bought coffee and a 20 box TimBits for the road. The great thing about the On Route Service Areas is that most if them have Free WiFi. Which is really nice for checking e-mails and checking in at Gowalla stops. Also our new iDofdaa to check maps and so on.

After a while we stopped in Prescott to use the restroom at McDonald's and realized that there were 2 caches in a couple of hundred meters. We grabbed O'Really easily but We Were Once Here was harder because of a cruiser (police) that came our way. And attracking attention from the police seems like a bad idea.

Then we drove into the Thousand Island region, a sort of archipelago on the St-Lawrance river that is shared by Canada and the US. About 2/3 of the islands are Canadian and 1/3 American however there are no shared islands, they are all either or... This area is very similar to the Swedish landscape and it's really beautiful.

We were recommended to stop at the Skydeck tower overlooking the Thousand Island region along the route 137/US81. It's a 400 ft tower built in 1965 with a 40 sec elevator ride to the top. There are three observation decks and we were totally alone. It sure was worth the detour because the view was spectacular over the two countries. The price per person was 2.50 Can.

We passed back over the bridge and reconnected on the 138 towards Toronto. When we reached Napanee, we stopped at a On Route and bought Burger King for lunch. We both had the Steakhouse burger. We don't have it in Sweden so it was nice to try something new. A very moist burger with great BBQ taste. I really liked it, too bad we don't have it at home.

Then we continued towards Toronto and our meeting/fika/coffee date with Andy's high school friend Nathan. He was an exchange student in Sweden and became great friends with Andy. They hadn't seen one another for 16 years. So we made our way to a Starbuck's on Yonge St and met Nathan. It was a really nice reunion and it was so nice to meet someone from Andy's past. We had lots of laughs and it was too bad that we didn't have a whole evening to spend together. Nathan had to go back to work and we speed on to Niagra Falls. Thanks Nathan for the quick coffee!

It's about 90 km between Toronto and Niagra Falls so we just buzzed through on the high way.

Once we arrived in Niagra Falls (on the Canadian) we searched for our Hotel the Four Points by Sheraton. We valleyed the car and quickly checked in to the really great room on the 17th floor, room 1718. Our view over the falls was magnificent. We pretty much just dropped our bags and then walked down towards the Falls. We found the The Incline Railway and took it down the hill towards the visitors center and into the large center to buy tickets for the Maids of the Mist, the boats that go into the falls.

The tickets to the Maids of the Mist could be bought at the elevators about a 15 minute walk. But first the magitude of the Falls... Breathtaking!

It probably took us a good hour since we stopped and watched and photographed every inch of the Horse Shoe Fall. Ah I couldn't wait, I was soooo excited!

We bough tickets 16.50 CAN per person and went out to the boats. There we were given our beautiful blue rain coats and lots of photography. We were really lucky since we were very few on our boat so we had lots of space. I'll tellyou more about the boat ride another time but all I'm going to say is WOW!

We took lots of pictures in the the falls and we were all wet! But it was brilliant! I'm so lucky to be able to do things that I've always wanted to do. What an amazing adventure!

After the amazing ride, we took a taxi back to the hotel. Let's just say that we were somewhat wet ;-). At the hotel we decided that it was time for dinner and called The Keg to book a table. They wanted us there in 15 minutes so it was just to change and cross the road to The Key for our booking at 8.15 p.m.

The Keg is a steakhouse & Bar that the In-Law recommended us to go to. They have one of the best views over the falls and the lightshow during the evenings. We were seated and were introduiced to our waitress Penny, who was a really great help. Andy and I had quite a hard time deciding what to order from the multitude of choices on the menu.

First out some really nice sweet roll with butter.

Then we ordered starters, both of us chose seafood in pretty much the same way. Andy ordered the lobster and I ordered the scampi. Ah, so good!

My baked garlic shrimp with garlic, herbs and melted Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses.

Andy's Lobster Gratinée with garlic, herbs and melted Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses.

The starters were really tasty, creamy and buttery and with a couple of drops of lemon the balance was made.

Since The Keg is a Steakhouse it did feel like we had no other choice but to have meat. Not a problem for us since we love meat, an excellent piece of prime meat.

I ordered a Bleu Cheese Filet. A piece of prime filet Mignon wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and covered in a golden brown Bleu cheese crust and sprickled with rosasted garlic cloves. Served with double baked baked potatoes, 7 oz.

Andy ordered a New York Classic - a tender New York Serloin, 12 oz, grilled medium rare. Served with fries.

To the beautiful food we drank a bottle of Mazi Valpolicella 2009 Bonacosta. A red wine bottle with great taste that really suits meats. We talked quite a bit with Penny and had told here that it just happened to be our "official" wedding aniversery the day after, and eventhough we had told her that we were stuffed and just wanted the check, she came with a large piece of Mocca cheesecake with an Oreo base.

Such a lovely thing to do for us. We were really surprised! That is what you call customer service. Such a nice gesture to make us feel special. Thank you Penny and The Keg.

The view from the restaurant. Beautiful huh!

After dinner we strolled back to the hotell and watched the lightshow from our hotel room. Such a great day!

Location:Niagra Falls

Good morning day 10

Breakfast today at a All You Can Eat Buffe...

Back towards Montreal today, via the US, for some sightseeing and sone shopping.
Location:Niagra Falls

onsdag 29 juni 2011

Good Morning day 9

Andy and I are on a road trip to...

Happy birthday Dr. SpiderPig

It's Andy's brothers Birthday today, I hope he has a good one!

Karoleen - Photographer © 2005-2011 All Rights Reserved.
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Happy birthday Dad

I hope you have a great day Dad! 
Love K

Karoleen - Photographer © 2005-2011 All Rights Reserved.
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Canada day 8

Ah, what a night. I needed sleep that is all that I can say. It felt like I couldn't fall asleep and slept kind of restless, but at the same time I must have slept for at least 6 hours. A late morning with breakfast on the terrace. Today we didn't have any plans at all which was nice. But at the same time we decided that we would go to Niagra Falls tomorrow so we had quite a bit of planning and booking to do in the morning. We decided on the hotel, Four Points by Sheraton in Niagra Falls, we decided on which road to take there, the northern side of St Lawrence, via Toronto, and which way to take back home, the American side, south of St Lawrence and lastly we decided that we were to meet up with Andy's Canadian friend Nathan from High School. So the first half of the day was pretty much a planning and thinking day.
Our hotel room in Niagra Falls, Canada. 
Andy's Mom suggested that we have lunch at Umi Sushi, which is somewhat of "our" restaurant here in Montreal and it is a tradition that we share with her to eat Sushi at least once when we see each other. In Sweden we always eat Sushi from Kikkobar (which has now closed) and in Montreal it is Umi Sushi. I LOVE the salad that they serve before the Sushi, it has a sesame seed dressing that is to DIE for! And the sushi is amazing too... so good... Last time we were here I believe we were at Umi three times, and it's one of the best sushi's I've eaten.  Ah I love this tradition!

After lunch Andy and I were going to make our way to town to look at a little toy. We were supposed to go to a couple of stores and then possibly check if they had an iPad 2 at the Apple store. Andy has been wanting one for a while now and we decided to check it out when we were here in Canada. We took the buss in to town and walked a couple of blocks from Rue University to Cresent St, to the Apple Store. It is HUGE! We walked inside and in about 2 minutes we had bought an iPad. But we had to wait for Andy's Dad to come and help us with the buy because of some tax issues, so we sat down at Starbucks in the corner and waited for him to come from the office. When he arrived we bought an iPad 2 and then made our way back to the office with him. Such a strange feeling to have a new Apple product in our hands...

We got home and we didn't do to much until it was time for dinner.Lots of checking with our little new toy called iDofdaa (iFrog), setting it up and making sure that we had all our stuff for our comming trip to Niagra Falls. Andy's Mom made her prawn, bell peppers and sugar snaps noodle-dish that is sooo tasty! It's really tasty!
For desert we had Strawberries, sponge cake and whipped cream. Very good!

Then we took an early night so that we'd be able to leave early in the morning. We needed to get going really early since it is an 7 hour and 20 minutes trip, without stopping. And since we both had planned stops, such as the Skydeck and Toronto to see Nathan, as well as unplanned stops...bathroom, lunch, geocaches... we really had to make an early start...

Karoleen - Photographer © 2005-2011 All Rights Reserved.
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tisdag 28 juni 2011

In town

Location:Rue Crescent,Montréal,Kanada

Good morning day 8

Some of us are extremly tired, that is me!

It was a late morning this morning, we woke up at half past eight.

No plans for today, but we have some plans for the comming days...

Location:Rue de la Grande Allée,Verdun,Kanada

Canada day 7

Day two in Baie St Paul. Oh my how the weather has changed. It's no longer a boring dull grey mess out there but a lovely sunny morning with so much potential. The bay looks brilliant in all of it's pride, it is really showing us it's glory today. It still isn't that warm, about 14 C, but I'm sure the temperature will rise soon enough. 
I'm still kind of fun from yesterdays dinner, but breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all... =) But first we spent some time on the In-Laws balcony reading and just enjoying the sunshine. After a while we made it down to the dining room for breakfast.

At breakfast there was a choice of 10 breakfast plates and 6 additions. All of the breakfast plates were served with fruits, toasted bread, jam, roasted potatoes and coffee/tea. No1: Rôtie/Breads, No2: Un oeuf au choix/One egg of choice, No3: Deux oeuf au choix/Two eggs of choice, No4: Un oeuf avec jambon ou bacon ou saucisse ou cretons/One egg with ham or bacon or sausages or pork spread with spices, No5:  Deux oeuf avec jambon ou bacon ou saucisse ou cretons/Two egg with ham or bacon or sausages or pork spread with spices, No6: Pain dorè avec sirop d'èrable/French toast with Maple syrup, No7: Crêpes maison avec sirop d'érable/Pancakes with maple syrup, No8: Omelette au choix/Omelette of choice, No9: Ouef poché, fromage cottage, fruits frais/A poached egg with cottage cheese and fresh fruits, No10: Assiette Brunch/A brunch platter. The Additions were Jus d'orange ou pamplemousse/Orange juice or grapefruit juice, Fèves au lard/
Maple Baked Beans, Fromage Cheddar/Cheddar cheese, Extra Fruits/ Extra fruit, Céréales/Cereal, Extra Viande/Extra Meat. 

I ordered the No4: Un oeuf avec bacon/One egg with bacon with coffee. Andy and his Dad took the same but with two eggs each and Andy's Mom took a ham omelet. Good food, nothing extraordinary but I liked the touch with the fruit. Fresh fruit is always nice.
After breakfast we checked out of the Inn and started our drive NE on Route 362 towards Malbaie and Port-au-Persil. Our first stop was at a rest stop on the other side of the bay, where we could look down upon the whole of Baie St Paul. It was really beautiful in the sunshine. We made sure to log a couple of geocaches on the road as well, such as Le Belvédère and Port-au-Persil.
We took the road down to the water at Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive, where the roads were about 9 degrees decline, which was quite a bit on a road that twisted and turned all the time. At the bottom is a beautiful little quaint summer village, that would be a treat to live in. I'm sure it's filled in the summer time. After then we reconnected with the 362 towards Malbaie. Just before Malbaie we stopped at a little store, au Père d'Antoine, that sold cheeses, wines, and other specialties. Also there were some souvenirs. Then we went ontowards Malbaie, via Saint-Irene. In Malbaie there were some really impressive churches for such a small place. On the other side of the Malbaie bay we stopped at a rest stop for some photography. Luckily Andy's parents are just as wild as us when it comes to photography =)
We continued along the coastline towards Port-au-Persil. Such beautiful views from the tall cliffs along the St Lawrence river. The view was spectacular the whole way there. In Port-au-Persil, we took another little road towards the water, with winding curves and steep inclines and ended up at a beautiful waterfall. We did find this spot because of a geocach, which was kind of nice.
Then it was about time to return back from whence we came so that we could spend some time in Quebec City, which we skipped due to the weather yesterday. But first we wanted to get some lunch. We tried places in Malbaie, but they were all closed, it was after all Monday... Then we went on and deceded to try the Golf Courses Restaurant, which are usually quite nice so we set of to the Fairmont le Manior Richelieu Golf Club. But they were also closed eventough they had a large open sign on the door. So we ended up south of Baie St Paul at the Restaurant Le Relais overlooking the Baie St Paul. The restaurant wasn't too big, but it did have a terrass where one could eat lunch and have an amazing view over the bay.

Me and My Mother-in-Law had the Trio burger and Andy and his Dad had the fish and Chips. Good food and a great view.
Then we returned back towards Quebec City. It took some time, but the traffic hadn't started yet so we were quite lucky.  We followed Route 138 until we ended up in Quebec City. Quebec City is one of oldest cities in North America and the only remaining fortified wall left in North America (N of Mexico). We parked in Vieux Quebec/Old Quebec and started walking towards the Citadel, which is a so-called Star Fort, which are something that I'm very fascinated by... They intrigue me...

The view from up on the citadel towards the St Lawrence River and the port of the City of Quebec. What a beautiful day, no?
We walked around Vieux Quebec/Old Quebec and we all felt right at home. In Stockholm we have a a beautiful Old City and also in Visby, Gotland, where Andy and his parents have lived there is a great old city, which also happens to be fortified by a wall. We walked around in the old parts and looked at beautiful buildings and lots of great landscapes.

The old Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is such a spectacular building, now a very famous hotel. Truly a marvel to look at with all it's spires and towers. It's such that fairy tales are made from...
We had coffee at Starbucks and walked around in the city some more. There was so many things to see and everyone has been telling us about the beuaty of Old Quebec and it's so true that it lovely with all of the old buildnings that they really have made sure to keep. The styling and the decorations, make you feel like you have traveled back in time...

The sun was beautiful, the weather warm, Quebec was truely magical, but it was time for us to make our way back home to Montreal. We didn't want to get caught in any traffic but we made our way back home via the scenic routes along the St Lawrence river. We stopped at McDonalds for some dinner and then made our way back home. A late night arrival,  but well worth the time in the car...

Karoleen - Photographer © 2005-2011 All Rights Reserved.
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måndag 27 juni 2011

Starbucks Frontenac

In Old Quebec/Vieux Quebec and having "coffee" at Starbucks

Location:Rue du Fort,Québec,Kanada

Oh I almost forgot

Tradition is tradition...

Location:Boulevard Monseigneur de Laval,Baie-Saint-Paul,Kanada

Good morning day 7

After the quite discouraging weather yesterday and my father-in-law promesing better weather today, we've woken up to a beautiful morning. The view over the bay is magnificent!

Location:Boulevard Monseigneur de Laval,Baie-Saint-Paul,Kanada

Canada day 6

We got going this morning around 10.04, after a quick breakfast at home. Since we had been at at party last night, we were kind of slightly tired. Today's adventure was to Baie St Paul, 350 km northeast of Montreal, on the northern shoreline of the St Lawerence River. It's one of those places that My In-Laws wanted to show us and as you will see, we understand why. The Charlevoix region of Quebec is a truely beautiful place enclosed by the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River and the Laurentian Mountains region of the Canadian Shield. It includes rolling terrain, fjords, headlands and bays and is a part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, since 1989.

Unfortunetly the weather in Montreal was crap. It was raining and when it wasn't raining it was very cloudy. So unfortunetly the weather gods weren't with us. But according to the weather reports it was to be better weather in Baie st Paul, both later on in the evening and the day after. So hopeful it was just to wait it out...

We took Champlain Bridge/Pont off the island of Iles de Soeurs and then on to route 132 along the St Lawerence River. Then on to Route 20 East and that's the road we followed for quite a while. In St-Hyacinthe we stopped for some 11-coffee at Tim Hortons. Andy, his Dad and I are large coffee drinkers, so the choice was easy, black for them and a Vanilla Cappuccino for me along with a Boston Creme with Chocolate donut. Andy's Mom had a SmooTim (a strawberry smoothie). 
Then we continued on Route 20 East/North East towards Quebec City. Between Iles de Soeurs, Montreal and Quebec City it's about a 255 km drive. Since the weather wasn't really letting up we didn't really feel like stopping of in Quebec City for some sightseeing. So we decided to skip that and drive on towards the hotel and Baie St Paul, where the weather was supposed to be better.

Before we got to Quebec, and in the midst of the rain, we stopped of at Subway in Laurier-Station. Subway is such a good lunch since it's quick and tasty, but at the same time it isn't a lot of food and since we were going to have a 4-5 course dinner at the hotel, we didn't want to eat too much lunch. I had an Italian B.M.T really good, tasty. We don't have this one in Sweden, so it's always nice to chose some different stuff. Andy had a Spicy Italian, Andy's Mom had a Tuna and Andy's Dad a Steak & Cheese. We also bought some of our favorite chips, since last time we were here, Miss Vickies Jalapeno chips, that are spicy and really good! We really like them, they are slightly more crispy than regular chips and the taste is intense and real, also the chips have no trans fats, MSG and artificial flavors or coloring.
After lunch we made our way back onto Route 20 and towards Quebec City. We crossed the St Lawrence River outside Quebec City and drove west of Quebec City and then on to Route 40 NE, via Beauport. Here it was bumper-to-bumper for quite some time.

After Quebec City is where the beauty of the Province of Quebec can be seen. The roads are high on the mountain sides and the magnificence of the St Lawrence river spreads out. It is large open areas, with vast views of the lavish landscape. But more pictures from then were taken by our SLR so I'll load them later.

After Beauport, we took Route 138 NE and started our trip towards Baie St Paul, along the St Lawrence. When we got closer to Grande-Pointe, we took a little detour towards Le Massif de Charlevoix, a ski resort, situated right by the edge of the St Lawrence river. One skiis down the slope towards the river and see the magnificent view all the way down. Andy's Dad has done some skiing here previously and thought it would be a cool place to see the view.

Just before entering the Bay of Saint Paul / Baie St Paul, we could see the whole city spread out in the valley below, we got of the road and towards our hotel, l'Auberge La Pignoronde. A quiet and quaint little hotel, overlooking the bay. The hotel, or The Inn, is one of the most well-known in Charlevoix and offers its quests a large range of activities and choice.

The Inn has a total of 28 rooms, conecting rooms, luxury 3 room suites, and mezzanine rooms. All the rooms have a private bathroom, but only 20 with AC and 2 with balcony. There is an indoor pool and lots of out door activities and lounging areas. There is a restaurant that serves both breakfast and dinner and the dinner is highly recommended. Located: N47.25'28,5" W70.31'20.2"
 Andy's Mom and Dad got room 211, with a balcony and Andy and I got room 213. The rooms had a great view along the Baie St Paul but make sure that you don't get the room at the end on any of the floors since there really isn't a view there because of the tall trees. 
The rooms are clean and tidy. Maybe no the modernest of Inns, but it was charming in it's own way. Our room had a queen bed and a sofa, as well as lots of storage space and a TV and AC.
The sink was located on the outside of the bathroom, which is slightly odd, but I know that it is quite normal in a lot of countries. But there was a bath tub, hair dryer and toiletries. All the comforts that one needs in an Inn. Also there is a beautiful stream that flows by the hotel which gives a nice soothing sound.
After checking in we decided to take a drive towards the city of Baie St Paul and do some shopping and some sightseeing. The weather was really pitiful and we really couldn't see anything across the bay. Somewhere out there we were supposed to be able to see the bay...
The beautiful harbor in Baie St Paul.
The beach.
When we got back to the hotel, Andy's parents invited us into their room for some pre-dinner drinks and snacks. =)

We had dinner reservations at the Inn's gourmet restaurant. Where my In-Laws have eaten before and really recommended us to eat. They have a Table d'Hôte Menu (a complete dinner) that changes daily. It's either a 4 or 5 course dinner with lots of choices and is truly excellent.

For the first course there was a choice of Feuilleté de Homard/Lobster in puff pastry, Terrine de Pintade aux Olives Noires et Tomates Séchées/A guineafowl terrine with black olives and sun dried tomatoes, Salade Mesclun et sa Vinaigrette Maison/A mixed salad with the house vinegrette.

All four of us had the lobster in puff pastry with lobster sauce and a salad. It was beautiful! The lobster was so buttery and mild, but at the same time so tasty and meaty. Served with a Marlborough soaked Chardonnay.
As a second course the choices were Consommé Double/Meat Broth (Consomme), Potage aux Légumes et Tomates/Potatoe and vegetable soup with tomatoes and Crème d'Asperge/ Cream of asparagus soup. Andy chose the Consommé and the rest of us ordered the Crème d'Asperge and we were all happy. The Soup was creamy and mild, but with a strong asparagus flavor.
Andy's Consommé.
As a main course or our third course there were 5 different choices. Filet de Doré et Beurre Citronné/John Dory filet with Lemon Butter, Suprême de Volaille Sause Rouge Épicée/BBQ chicken filet, Médaillon de Boeuf à la Bourguignonne/ Beef medalions Bourguignonne style, Foie de Veau aux Pleurotes/Calf's liver with mushrooms, Koulibiac de la Pignoronde/The chefs speciality, a layered dish with the chefs specials, Salmon, sole, shrimps, Duxelle and rice in a Crust..

My Mother-in-Law and I had the Filet de Doré et Beurre Citronné, but unforutnetly the fish was slightly dry and there wasn't enough lemon butter sauce. But it did taste very nice. We continued with the white wine we had with the starter.
Andy and his Dad had the Médaillon de Boeuf à la Bourguignonne and all of us agreed that it was the better of the two dishes. The flavor was great and the meet cooked well. Served with a Château La Tuilerie du Puy.
Then came the cheese course, or the fourth course, but we chose to skip it, we didn't have any space left.  So instead we ordered desert. There were 5 different desert choices, Salade de Fruits Frais/Fresh fruit salad, Tarte au Sucre/Sugar Pie - a pie crust filled with a filling including maple syrup, Tulipe Givrée sur Coulis de Mangues/A tulip-looking-pastry with Mango Coulis, Crème Brûlée and Everest/A large chocolate cake with pralines.

Andy and I ordered the Everest. It was really good, although it was huge and we really could have shared one. A nice touch with the pralines, it made the cake slightly crunchy and more interesting. Also it was served with fruits witch is always nice.
My Mother-in-Laws Crème Brûlée, ah, hearing the crack of the top layer sent chills down my spine. And the sweetness of the custard was to die for. This was by far my favorite desert of the evening. It was brilliant!
My Father-in-Laws Tarte au Sucre. I had never had it before and it was really good. The lovely sweetness from the maple syrup was great.
What a dinner! Great food, lovely company, nice wines and just perfect. The In-Laws really do bring us to great spots and let us experience lots of memorable things. We had coffee and sat a while and just enjoyed having eaten a great meal and then we wet back to my In-Laws room for a night cap. Then it was time to make a day of it...

The view over the bay just before bed time...

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