Chuck Cook

I enjoy seeing the sights of the world and photographing them. I hope the photos and descriptions bring you joy.
Living in: Asheboro, United States
  • Day293

    Heathrow and Home

    October 3 in the United Kingdom

    We are on the last leg of the journey. First class tickets certainly make check-in and boarding easier. We just spent a relaxing respite in the Admiral’s Club Lounge enjoying a cup of coffee. Now we are at the gate ready to board the airplane to come home. What a fantastic trip this has been!

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  • Day16

    Marseilles Airport

    October 3 in France

    Because this airport gives no indication of the gate for your flight nor the location of the security line, we had to go through security twice—once for Lufthansa, though we were not flying on Lufthansa, and once for British Airways. Glenda sailed through security for Lufthansa, but flunked repeatedly for BA. When we got to the airport, a passenger said she wanted a wheelchair, though she appeared to be perfectly mobile and had boarded the bus with no problems. The Viking rep asked her, “Did you order a wheelchair last night before you left the ship?” The passenger answered, “They gave us a wheelchair the last time we landed here.” So at that point the Viking rep had to leave the other twenty couples to get a wheelchair.Read more

  • Day15

    Pont du Gard

    October 2 in France

    Pont du Gard is a Roman aqueduct that carried water for over thirty miles to the Roman city located on the site of modern Nimes. A museum at this UNESCO World Heritage Site describes the unbelievable achievements of Roman slaves and engineers as they picked their way through the mountains. No one knows how many slaves were worked to death in the process of this construction. It was built over a period of about thirty years at about the time of the birth of Jesus. One fact that amazed me was that the Romans in Nimes were quite well supplied with drinking water from the Rhone River. The pressurized water carried by this aqueduct was solely for the pleasure of the Roman overlords in their fountains and baths. It is still a remarkable sight. Glenda and I were able to climb to the top of the mountain overlooking this structure to get a photograph in the afternoon sun.Read more

  • Day15

    Papal Palace at Avignon

    October 2 in France

    One of the high points of our trip occurred today as we visited the Papal Palace at Avignon. As strange as it may seem, there was a time when there were as many as six different men, all claiming to be the rightful Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The problem was that each of these men had the backing of one or more kings. This volatile recipe sparked the Hundred Years’ War, a conflict based on a complicated muddle of politics and religion. Though most of the furnishings of this place were destroyed in the religious wars and in the French Revolution, modern technology has produced some interesting graphic effects that bring these rooms to life. Any student of church history cannot miss seeing this fascinating place that combines palace with fortress.Read more

  • Day14

    Arles

    October 1 in France

    The notes of Bizet’s L’Arlesienne Suite keep going through my mind. We are docked near Roquemaure, ready to board the bus for Arles.

    The Romans certainly left their imprint on this part of the world. Their amphitheater here is one of the best preserved Roman structures in the world. Another historical figure who made an impression here was Vincent Van Gogh. He probably drank too much, and he certainly disturbed his neighbors enough for them to circulate a petition requiring him to move. To impress his lady love he cut off his ear with a razor. He then checked into the local hospital, whose courtyard he painted, to keep himself from bleeding to death. We visited it and I attempted to duplicate photographically his work of art. Later he checked into an asylum for the insane near Paris. There he committed suicide by shooting himself. This is a lovely town, and one can certainly feel the influence of Italy both in its history and its religion,and the influence of Van Gogh in its art.Read more

  • Day13

    Tournon sur Rhone

    September 30 in France

    I was delighted to find that the wine tasting today was in the vineyard of Tain l’Hermitage. I have bought wine from this place before, and have some of it in my collection at home. This is the quintessential wine country of France in the region formerly known as Burgundy. We took a hike up to the top of the mountain and learned that the Croze Hermitage is grown in soils at the bottom of the hill. This wine is very good French table wine, and it sells for $15-20 per bottle. However, at the top of the hill is the area where the grapes are grown for the more expensive Hermitage wines. Actually until the 1990’s none of the wines here were terribly expensive. Then the area was discovered by Robert Parker. Since then prices have been soaring. While all the wines here are made of Shiraz grapes, some of the Hermitage wines sell for over $200 per bottle. All of the wines here are grown according to the most extreme organic requirements. No insecticides are used. Only goat manure is used for fertilizer. Even though it is only the Shiraz grape that is used here, some of the grapes grow in limestone soil and others grow in granite soil. The difference in terroir makes a significant difference in the flavor and strength of the wine. If you want to know how the wine tastes, you can get a bottle of Epsilon from Hermitage and check it out for a mere $220. The land here is beautiful, and the photographs of the vineyards are iconic images of France. Finally we went to the Valrhona Chocolate outlet. Two brothers started this business in 1922. Now it has turned into one of the largest chocolate retailers in the world. Good wine and good chocolate make for a very satisfying day in Tournon. I must mention one other very complimentary item about this place: the road over this mountain comprises one of the stages in the Tour de France. Bicyclists are everywhere. This is my kind of place.Read more

  • Day12

    Historic Vienne

    September 29 in France

    This part of France became a Roman colony when Julius Caesar brought his army here in 47 BC. Though it had long been known that the Romans were here, excavations began in earnest at the beginning of the twentieth century. Now the ruins of a Roman forum, theater, odion and arches have been unearthed. One of the best preserved Roman temples is here as well. Vienne also figured prominently in church history. Now the church of St. Maurice is no longer a cathedral; the bishop now has his chair in Lyon. Things are now slowing down in Vienne. If it costs half as much to live in Lyon as Paris, it costs half as much to live in Vienne as Lyon. The picturesque beauty of this small city on the southern edge of the Beaujolais area is charming.Read more

  • Day11

    Chateau de Flecheres

    September 28 in France

    Two men decided they would buy a sixteenth century château and restore it. Buying it was not a problem, but restoring it has taken a lifetime. The previous owner, a member of the French mafia, destroyed some of the fabric of the building and many of the records. The sixteenth century owners became Protestants, and for many years this chateau served as the meeting place for French Huguenots. Now the building is beautiful, but the new owners are still furnishing it. Some of the elaborate pieces have simply vanished in the mists of history. A parquet floor, once stolen from the house has been recovered. It shows the former opulence of the place. Nevertheless, the house is lovely, and the current owners are to be commended for their efforts. After the tour the owner treated us to a torte and champagne in the main parlor. What a delightful afternoon!Read more

  • Day11

    Regnie Durette in Beaujolais

    September 28 in France

    The smallest vineyard in Beaujolais makes great grapes. Brouilly is the strongest of the wines of Beaujolais. The grape roots must fight their way through the underground rock, and the wine is aged longer. At our wine tasting we found it delicious. We were at the Chateau des Ravatys, the Domaine of l’Institute Pasteur. This vineyard, strangely, is characterized as a “charity.” It was founded by a nurse in the early twentieth century. It does not export or market its wines outside the estate. However, it produces such fine wines that oenophiles throughout the world subscribe annually to receive cases of its product, and it sells a small amount here at the vineyard store. All profits that are not reinvested into the winemaking operation are used to support the local hospital.Read more

  • Day11

    The Hill of Fleurie in Beaujolais

    September 28 in France

    Hill of Fleurie in Beaujolais boasts some of the best vineyards in France. The French do not regard the Beaujolais nouveau highly. George LeBoeuf vineyards simply produces and sells it quickly to make money. Other crus of the Beaujolais region are far superior to the Beaujolais nouveau, which our guide called a “catastrophe.” It is remarkable that the varied soil here makes it possible to produce 18 different types of wine from one type of grape, the gamay.Read more

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