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sunny 15 °C

The town we are in now is called Ciotat, it was a mostly random decision to come here as it was half way from Cinque Terre to Barcelona but it is also on the coast and in a great wine region, which was no mistake. Our search for hotels was a bit of a funny one as the highest recommendations went to none other than, America's, Best Western. We are a little embarrassed to admit that the rest of the reviews for this area were so bad that we actually went for it. After our last place that thought hot showers were an unnecessary luxury, it is actually pretty nice and right in the center of the downtown marina/restaurant district. And the good news is, we can do just about anything tomorrow, because tonight, we slept at a Best Western (sorry if you don't find that funny because you haven't seen their recent ad campaign.)

We made good time on our drive yesterday and arrived here by 5pm. Restaurants that open all day are not a normality here so we found a patisserie for a quick snack and had a nap before we explored the town when it opened back up in the evening. It isn't the prettiest waterfront town, but it has some pretty big marina's with giant cranes that must mean it is a good spot to get some work done. It also has a lot of fishing boats tied up here, so we were keen on some good seafood restaurants. As we wandered along the shore lined with restaurants, reading the menus and checking out how busy each was I stumbled onto a familiar face. I do it every now and again and am sometimes to shy to actually check and see if it is the person I know, so this time I just stuck my head in the front door and yelled, "Howard!" He spun around like he had been slapped, it was right back to the old days at the Lady C and later the Red Piano in St.Maarten. Howard has been the chef on the private yacht "Ultima III" for as long as I can remember and it was pretty funny that he was here for a couple of days meeting the current crew and getting back on the boat for a few months. We had an entertaining dinner and went out for a few beers after with the crew to catch up.

This morning was a bit of a slow one, we are here to relax and regroup a bit before we head on to Nepal. I googled some wine farms in the area and they all seem to close for lunch so it seemed a little unnecessary to try anything serious before two. Nat hit the pharmacy to grab a few things while we still kind of understand the language, just so you know, Sudafed costs 1.80 euros for a big box, America still isn't doing you any favours. The next town on the coast didn't seem to hold much so we carried on to the little town of Bandol, which I only recognize because it is written on the back of most of the great bottles of rose I have had. We arrived at the waterfront and although the breeze was cool, we found a strip of restaurants and had a great lunch of mussels, salad and wine.

After lunch we took the backroads towards the wine farm, Domaine Ott. I rationalized that I already knew what it tasted like, so we should really try some other local farms while we were here. The roads are littered with signs advertising each little "Domaine" and it was pretty tough to choose one, so we just went to the end of the most out of out-of-the-way place we could find and knocked on the door. Wine farms here aren't really set up for tasting...they are set up for buying. We were taken on an amazing tour, by the father of the house himself who didn't speak a lick of english, and tasted all that he had to offer, and then directly taken to sales office. I'm not sure what we are going to do with the case of wine we have, but we are now proud owners of a great selections of his whites, reds and roses. We might have stopped at a few other places, but fearing ending up with a palate of wine, we headed straight to Domaine Ott. It was an even shorter tour but we happily left with a couple more bottles. A short drive back to Ciotat and we noticed we had missed a Pirate Festival, the good news is it is on again tomorrow so we might have to catch that. Pirates and drunken rugby fans could be an entertaining combination.

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Posted by colincampbell 16:01 Archived in France

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When we were in Europe a few years ago, it completely threw us off that the Best Westerns were some of the nicest hotels in the towns we went to. Obviously a different mentality with that chain over there. Thanks for all the updates, it's fun reading about your adventures. You can always ship your wine home for a reasonable price.

by Erin Yeatman

Well while you are off traveling PJ and I are helping to finance your trip, we had breakfast @ Bon Appetit this morning!!
Andrew does a great job for you.
Have a great rest of your trip.

by Kevin Jackson

Love that you ran into Howard! It's like gettin' the band back together, man!

by Gretchen

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