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A Classic Fairy Tale City, Old Quebec!

Old Quebec is a classic fairy take city surrounded by citadels and forts at every corner. The moment we entered the city through giant dome shaped gateways, I was already in the awe of the city. Every little street we crossed to reach our hotel had horse buggies running along the pavements bustling with tourists. Every nook and corner of the city was filled with street musicians playing guitar, piano, saxophone and all kinds of instruments. The music being soft and mellow was very soothing to hear.

Our first day at Old Quebec, we checked into the Fairmont Le Chateau that is a palace like looking hotel in the heart of the city. Located right by the Lawrence River, the Le Chateau looks no less than a historic mansion. As we walked out of our hotel, we started to make our way to the lower town down the stairs to the Champlain district which is also known as the shopping district of old Quebec. The shopping district was filled with little art and souvenir shops. As we walked, we enjoyed listening to the street musicians and stopped for a little bit to relax by the saxophone musician who had adorable dogs sleeping peacefully by him.

Exploring further we reached the square for lunch. The European style roofs of the square reminded me of Bruges in Belgium which I visited a few years ago. We also did take the funicular uphill to get panoramic views of the city surrounded by the Lawrence River. As we settled down with the day, the beautiful fairy tale night in the city had begun. Old couples dancing out to the musicians by the streets by the Italian restaurant which I still vividly remember. The caricature and art shops had begun to close but the hustle and bustle of the tourists in romantic restaurants was still a sight to remember.

I was very excited to see the horse buggies right in front of our hotel and really wanted to do the city tour in the carriage. Our carriage tour guide not only educated us about the history of the city but also added his own local entertaining stories which made us laugh all the way through the end of the tour. He did teach us a few French phrases and we loved making conversations with him. Our horse Bob was very friendly and did make multiple stops to drink water at the fountains around the city.

As our trip was coming to an end, we started to gather souvenirs such as maple syrup, fridge magnets and handmade soaps before we flew back home. As we stepped out of the dreamy land, the real life started to kick in and it was time to go back home 🙂

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Napa and Sonoma Wine County in Spring!

After reading from several resources about Napa and Sonoma being the most beautiful in the month of April, I so wanted to visit the wine country in the spring. With purple wisteria in bloom across the Sonoma streets and the lush green vineyards all across the valley, spring turned out to be just perfect time to visit the wine country with friends. The highlight of our trip was the super fresh food served in the farm to table style restaurants. Everything including salads, juices and soups were freshly made from the vegetables and fruits harvested from their own farms. My two recommendation of these kind of restaurants would be Farmstead and Harvest Table. The dishes served were very flavorful and very well blended together with impeccable service. All we did was eat, eat and eat!

My most awaited part of the trip was the Tuscan style castle and winery Castello Di Amorosa. The winery was built in the 13th century and is located on a hill surrounded by valleys covered with grape vines. The inside of the castle is beautiful and there are dark cave like entrances with wine tastings in every corner of the castle. We really enjoyed the different kinds of wine tasting. My personal favorites were the smooth sweet wines Sympatica and Moscato. The other winery that we really enjoyed was the Mumm Napa which had a beautiful patio serving wine with snacks overlooking the huge vineyards.

Both Sonoma and Napa downtown seemed to be laid back and relaxing with soft country side music that fabulously complimented the wine. We spend our evenings strolling by the outdoor bars and restaurants and would sit down to hear the music which was absolutely soothing for the mind. It helped us unwind from the day to day hustle and bustle of the city. The other restaurants that I really enjoyed was the rustic bistro “Girl and the Fig” as well as the Spanish eatery “Bravas Bar de Tapas”. Our hotel Double Tree By Hilton near the Sonoma valley also offered a free wine and cheese hour every evening accompanied with live piano music in the background. It was a great way to sit back and relax after a day of exploring the valley. I also enjoyed driving along the rolling meadows and hills covered with roses and grape vines and it was difficult to leave such a beautiful place, but our next destination Sausalito was waiting for us 🙂