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Lyrarakis 2015 Assyrtiko

I have had this wine for a while; it was one that I bought in 2016 after a tasting of Greek wines at our awesome local wine shop.

For those of you who don’t know Greek grape varietals, like I didn’t, Lyrarakis is the winery, Assyrtiko is the grape.  The grapes were grown in Crete, and harvested in 2015.  I was excited to try it, since I had never tried the Assyrtiko grape.

Lyrarakis 2015 Assyrtico

I couldn’t find much online about this wine; it seems that the winery started making the wine under a different label after 2015. I have no idea if they are using the same vineyards either.  Than means you get my impressions exclusively.  Aren’t you lucky!

The wine is a very golden amber color, more golden than a lot of the white wines I drink.  On the nose, it smelled very floral, so much so that I wondered if I would like it, although clearly I had enjoyed it enough at the tasting to buy it.  It has been a couple of years though and wines change over time!

On the palate, it has a very syrupy mouthfeel, a much heavier white than I am used to.  It has a sweet flavor of lychee and passion fruit.  So delicious!

I would pair it with something a little spicy, like Thai food.  You’ll notice that I did pair it with my Spam Museum stemless wine glass, that I picked up on my road trip!

This was a very nice wine.  I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but I think it was about $20.  I would certainly buy it again!

 

 

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London 2018: Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Day 4, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

We continued our tour of Greenwich with a brief walk through of the historic Greenwich Royal Naval College.  The buildings here were built between 1696 and 1712, and were originally the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, or more generally known as Greenwich Hospital.  The hospital was built on the instructions of Mary II, who was troubled by the lack of care for seamen returning from the Battle of La Hogue.  The chapel and the Painted Hall were both built at this time.

One of the buildings at the Naval College

Eventually the hospital was closed and the site was converted to a naval training center; it served this purpose between 1873 and 1998.  It is now managed by the Greenwich Foundation, which opened the site to the public in 2002, and does a variety of events, movie filming, and other activities there.

The fountain at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich

The Painted Hall is an artistic masterpiece; the work of Sir James Thornhill, between 1707 and 1726.  During this period, the United Kingdom was created, and the murals on the walls and ceilings depict the political change occurring at the time.  Other themes include cultural and scientific achievements, naval accomplishments and commercial enterprises.  The murals and ceilings are currently being restored.

Our visit was a little confusing; the guidebook and the Painted Hall’s website indicated that the site is free to visit. However, when we went in, there was obviously an admission charge of 11 pounds.  We decided not to pay, as we had a lot of other tourist activities we were doing, so we checked out the entryway artwork and exited.  I think that the site is technically closed because of the restoration, but you can choose to have a guided tour of the ceiling, and that is what the admission was for. It would have been nice if the Greenwich Foundation made this more clear.  If you can shed some light on this, please let me know.

One day I would love to see the Painted Hall, in all its restored glory; the art in the entryway was pretty amazing…  In the meantime, you can see photos at the Painted Hall website.

The entry of the Painted Hall

We did walk across the way to the original chapel, which is also an architectural and artistic masterpiece and dates from the time of the hospital.  I love seeing old churches, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Both the art and the woodwork here are beautiful.

 

Costs: Old Royal Naval College – Painted Hall – 11 pounds? (not included with London pass), Chapel – free

12 Corners Aromella

When I was in Michigan visiting my family, my cousin and I took a day to head over to Lake Michigan.  We had lunch at a brewery, did a little bit of shopping, went to a couple of the wineries in downtown South Haven, and checked out the lighthouse too.

We stopped at 12 Corners Winery tasting room in downtown South Haven, named for the Twelve Corners neighborhood where the vineyard makes its home, and did a wine tasting.

The Aromella intrigued me.  It is a hybrid grape; a cross between Traminette and Ravat 34, developed at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY in 1976.  It was renamed Aromella in 2013 (that took a while!).  I have had Traminette, and like it, but I have never had, or even heard of Ravat 34.

The result is a sweet (but not overly so) white wine that tastes similar to Moscato, but with more floral flavors.  The 12 Corners Aromella is estate grown, the residual sugar on this wine is 5.5 percent and the alcohol content is 11.8 percent.  It was delicious and a great opportunity to taste a new-to-me grape!  It is also reasonably priced at $14.99 a bottle.

If you have tried it, let me know what you think!

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: Down Time

I’m in California; almost at the end of my long road trip.  I have driven over 13,000 miles, and have traveled within 28 states.  10 have been states that are new to me in my adult life, although I didn’t explore a few of them at all; rather just driving through.

Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hamphire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and finally California.  It has been a long, enjoyable drive, and I have seen and done so much along the way.  I still have one more state to pass through before reaching Washington once more.

I’ve been having  some down time, in California, and as often happens with me, once I stop to rest, that is when I get sick.  I have been pretty lucky to have not been sick while on this road trip, but now I’ve gotten a cold, complete with sniffles, sneezes, coughing, and exhaustion.  I’m taking some time to recover, resting and sleeping a lot, with lots and lots of cold medicine.  The cold medicine is accompanied by strange, crazy dreams, but I guess that’s a small price to pay for being able to breathe.

Relaxing with a book on the patio

Fortunately I can take some time to get better.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what my future holds; new opportunities that weren’t clear at the beginning of this trip.  Onward…

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Northward

Day 5, Friday, March 30, 2018

We had such a good time in San Francisco, but it was time to head northward towards home.  We got showered, packed up, tetrised the car, and got on our way…

Me with the Golden Gate Bridge

We stopped in Sausalito to poke around in some shops and walk along the water.  What a cute, peaceful little town!  Then we met up with Lelani’s friend Susi for lunch in Tiburon at Sam’s Café.  It is dog friendly and we sat outside on the patio to enjoy our meal.  I had fish and chips and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo.  The weather was amazing once again, sunny and much warmer than a typical March day!

Me after lunch in Tiburon

Our next destination was Santa Rosa for some wine tasting.  We stopped at Matanzas Creek Winery.  I did a tasting while the rest of the girls bought a bottle and sat out on the patio to share; I joined them when I was finished with my tasting.  They had some really good wine, but it was pricey.  It was really nice hanging out on the patio soaking up the sunshine!

Sharing a bottle

 

Selfie at Matanzas Creek!

Next we headed over to Muscardini.  They had some really good wines but I felt like the service could have been better…  They were dog friendly both inside and out though so Shaka loved it; she found a bone that another dog had left behind and was in heaven.

Muscardini

Our last stop in Santa Rosa was at Palooza for dinner.  There was a bit of a wait, but they had a waiting area where you could play a giant game of Jenga, so we didn’t mind the wait!  The girls shared pizza, but I wasn’t in the mood for more pizza so I had a Mushroom Alfredo that was to die for!  Another of Lelani’s friends had dinner with us, and she enjoyed catching up with him!

Concentration…

My mushroom alfredo and calamari appetizer at Palooza

By the time we left Santa Rosa the sun was setting, and we weren’t sure how far north we were going to get.  We had originally planned on camping on the Oregon Coast again, but after the misjudged distance on the way down earlier in the week, we decided that it would be better to just head back up I-5.  Laura and Brenna drove, and they are able to stay up way later than Lelani and me, so we made it all the way to Redding before deciding to turn in for the night.

We stayed at the Super 8 there; it was supposed to be dog friendly but they didn’t have any dog friendly rooms available for the night.  We were bad; we snuck Shaka in instead of making her sleep in the car.  She let out one big woof and a few quiet ones when some guys walked past the room on the way to theirs, but after that she was quiet.  Whew!

What a long, fun day!

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: de Young Museum

Day 4, Thursday, March 29, 2018

After our lunch at The Hook, we headed back over to Golden Gate Park to go to the de Young Museum and met up with Lelani’s nephew Niko, who had passes that we could use!

outside of the de Young Museum

The de Young had a special exhibit on the Precisionist Movement; I hadn’t heard of it but it had a lot of art with Industrial Revolution themes.  It was interesting, and not an art movement I had ever heard of before.  They also had some everyday items on display; a car, and household items that were designed in similar styling.  I don’t know if the term Precisionist is used to describe those items – mid-century modern is more the term I have used.

I also checked out the Maori portraits painted by Gottfried Lindhauer.  They were on loan from a private collection and are stunning, but no photos were allowed inside the exhibit.  He painted some from photographs and others sat for him.  His style captures the historic Maori traditions alongside Western culture in his paintings.  At the time many Maori wore Western style clothing along with the traditional tattoos and facial ornamentation…  The pics below were taken from Wikipedia.

We also did something I have never done – we went up to the top of the tower of the de Young Museum.  The view from there is fantastic!  It was so awesome to see the whole city!

the view from the de Young tower

 

Me in the de Young tower

After the museum, we were going to hit traffic at 5 pm so we decided to make a stop at the Biergarten to wait out the rush hour.  I am not a big fan of German style beers, so I had a glass of Gruner Veltliner and a pretzel snack.  The place was packed!

Our beers and wine at Biergarten

We headed back to the apartment for a little while to relax and get ready, then drove over the bridge to Sausalito to go to Bar Bocce.  The view was amazing; it was right on the water and you could sit out by the beach while they were getting your table ready.  We split everything, and had a fabulous meal of meatballs, calamari with quinoa, and two pizzas.  I had a couple glasses of Chenin Blanc.  It was already dark when we got there, but it would have been really awesome to see the sunset there!

Bar Bocce Pizza

What a great day!

 

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: The Presidio & Coit Tower

Day 3, Wednesday, March 28, 2018

After we went to the Sutro Baths, we still had plenty left on the agenda.  We saw the Legion of Honor Museum when we drove by it, and one day I want to visit – but that will have to be a different trip.

We were ready for lunch, so we went over to the Magnolia Gastropub in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.  Oh wow, this place was good.  I had the Bombay Bubbles IPA (YUM!) and the Fried Chicken sandwich with a salad. It was soooo delicious!

My beer at Magnolia

 

My fried chicken sandwich

We did some window shopping and Lelani tried on some clothes at a cute little boutique.

I found a dinosaur!

After that we went to the Presidio at Fort Point. Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 to protect the San Francisco Bay at the height of the gold rush.  It was designed in the Army’s Third System style, a style adopted in the 1820s, and was the only Fort west of the Mississippi River to be built in this style.  It was in use as an active fort up through World War II, although it never fired a shot at an enemy.

When the Golden Gate Bridge was being constructed in the 1930s, there was discussion of tearing down the now obsolete fort, but fortunately the bridge’s Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss saw the historical significance of the fort and designed an arch that would allow the bridge to be built over the existing fort structure.  I am so glad it could be saved.  Unfortunately the fort is currently only open Fridays through Sundays, so we weren’t able to go inside.  The interior is certainly on my list of places to see!

We walked along the water and climbed the steps down and up from the parking area – that was quite a workout!  We considered walking across the bridge, and I definitely want to do it sometime, but we were worried that all the traffic and the people might be too much and too dangerous for a puppy.  Next time – another thing for my bucket list!

We headed to another area of the Presidio for a late afternoon glass of wine at Sessions restaurant.  I had their happy hour white (twice…); the Ressó 2017 Garnacha Blanc – it was delicious!  I also had two oysters on the half shell, because at happy hour prices of $1.50 each, who wouldn’t?!!  Well, someone who doesn’t like raw oysters, but…  They were amazing!

My wine at Sessions

We sat at their outdoor seating, and it was so nice to just sit outside on a glorious, sunny, hot, March San Francisco day.  Those adjectives don’t normally go with San Francisco, and certainly not in March, so we really soaked it in!  And the folks at Sessions allow dogs in their outdoor seating, you just have to take the dog in through the side door on the patio, so we could linger for a while.  Our server even brought Shaka dog biscuits and a bowl of water!

Our last sightseeing stop of the day was up at Coit Tower.  I had been twice before and loved it each time, and so had Lelani, but the girls had never been.  It was too late in the day to go up to the top (if you get the chance to you should), but we had enough time to do a circuit of the bottom part of the tower.  That’s where (most of) the murals are.

Coit Tower

The murals…  Coit Tower’s murals were painted in 1934 as a part of a Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal employment projects for artists during the Great Depression.  They were painted in the Social Realism style, and depict commerce and industry subjects.  Interestingly, I learned while fact-checking for this blog post, that there are more murals on the second floor that are largely closed to the public.  However, you can see these murals, which depict recreation, if you take a tour (there are some free and some paid tours available).  How did I never know this?!  Yet another reason to visit Coit Tower!

A mural wine shop!

 

Coit Tower Industry

We headed back to our AirBnB for a bit of relaxing before we walked up the street to Zen Sushi for dinner.  This tiny, cramped restaurant had some excellent sushi!  It was a great end to a really good day.