The Antiques Diva and The Wine Guy’s Travel Planner for September 2007!

e depart this morning for a few weeks driving tour through Eastern Europe – just me, my darling husband and our Volvo packed to the hilt with bubble-wrap for bringing home all the breakables we intend to purchases en route. As I pack my bags, visions of “Crystal, Pottery, and Porcelain Oh My” dance through my head like sugarplum dreams on the night before Christmas! And in the spirit of Father Christmas, I might feel generous and pick up a few beer steins for my father-in-law, although I suspect he’d be happier if these traditional tankards were accompanied by a few bottles of authentic Pilsner Urquelle or Budvar beer.

My husband, “The Wine Guy” (WG), is certain to fill our trunk with wooden crates of Moravian and Tokaji wine which is fine with me as I’ll soon be serving them in my new gilded and hand-painted Bohemian stemware. Of course, I’ll have to lug back some artisanal water from Carlsbad to serve with the wine for we wouldn’t want to break the Eastern European dining theme – although I might have to draw the line at cooking up some authentic cuisines, as I must confess Eastern European food is a little too hearty for my taste buds. As I have a few preconceived notions about what to expect from the food on this trip, I’m making an attempt to contradict the stereotype I’ve formed from other forays east. Should you have any recommendations on places where I must dine, do email them to me, as I value your opinion!

From shopping for peasant blouses to paprika, Zsolnai to Herendi porcelain, Czech chocolates to heel-tapping, gypsy, music cds, The Antiques Diva is going to be one busy gal. I’ve been given a few addresses in Budapest where I can buy some “made to measure” clothes and covert research has already begun on where to find the best antiques across the region. I’ve even been walking around Amsterdam muttering the word “Starozitnosti” over and over again (which perhaps not so surprisingly hasn’t even drawn a raised eyebrow or two). All this in preparation so that, when the time comes, I won’t miss an antique shop sign simply because the language is unfamiliar.

By the time The Wine Guy and The Antiques Diva ™ return in mid-September, we’ll roll back into Holland with our car doors bubble wrapped shut, exhausted by our whirlwind tour through The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (and need I mention the vast expanse of Germany we’ll need to cross in order to reach our destination). I would give you an itinerary so that you could follow along each day except that I have none.

The consummate planners have planned not. We’ve decided to do “An Experiment in Travel” as we swing by the seat of our pants, waiting to see where the road leads, what hotels we stumble upon and what adventures await. Now you see why I called my shopping research “covert” as research of any kind has been strictly forbidden by WG as defeating the purpose of our experiment. I’ll try to pop in for a quick blog hello should we stumble upon an internet café to at least touch base and keep you abreast of our travels. Of course, this should only serve as an “aperitif” to wet your appetite. Stay tuned next month for our post trip travelogue.
It really doesn’t seem fair that while I’m off having fun you should be here all alone… so to keep you company while I’m away, I’ve organized a few things for your entertainment:

Pack Your Bags….
Slam a ‘Sling and book your Easy Jet tickets to Singapore Sept 1 – 2, 2007! Well, sort of… since you can’t fly to Singapore on Easy Jet, then the land that brings you Europe’s lowest priced airline brings the taste of Singapore to you! is hosting its annual “Tiger Beer Singapore Chili Crab Festival”. If we weren’t already going away, The Wine Guy would be all over this like a fly on… uh…. “chili-crab”.

If spicy Malaysian food isn’t your thing, then how about breezing into the weekend of Sept 15 & 16 for a tobelfast.com/Events/ViewDetail.cfm/Events_Id/1441/level/page/category_key/197/Page_Key/278/parent_key/0/type/Page/pagename/GARDEN%20GOURMET” target=”_blank”>Garden Gourmet weekend at Northern Ireland’s largest flower show / food and drink festival. State-side readers still have time to hop on the Chattanooga Choo-Choo to go to Wine Over Water, a festival held on Sept 15 in the Tennessee River Valley where wines from over a 100 different countries are presented for your tasting pleasure.

Speaking of things that tickle your taste buds, who wouldn’t want to spend two weeks Sept 6 – 16 at “Pizzafest” in Naples, where pizza was first created in the 19th C in it’s home, the worlds first pizzeria “Antica Pizzeria Port’ Alba”. During this same time period, you can “drop the cannoli” and pick up paella instead in Valencia at Sueca’s Feista del Arroz during their international paella-making contest.

Safe & Happy Travels (for both you and me!).

The Antiques Diva

Please note: the photo of crystal stemware is courtesy of www.casachameleon.com