Jacqueline’s Articles

Midnight Truffle Hunt

truffle tasting, midnight truffle huntStory and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler.

Somewhere in the distance a church bell chimed the midnight hour. A heavy mist made visibility along the valley road challenging. Nearing our rendezvous site we spotted two small nondescript Italian cars hovering by the side of the road. The drivers flashed their lights at our mini-bus then, with a squeal of tires, sped off along the twisting country road. Our driver, not intimidated by their speed, followed closely behind as we bumped our way into the hills near Alba in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. We were on a midnight truffle hunt in search of the legendary “White Diamonds,” tartufo bianco, or white truffles. At a market price of nearly $2,000 a pound, truffle hunters are willing to secretly go to amazing extremes to find and retrieve these incredible tubers.

 

Slow and Easy for a Barge Cruise in Burgundy

Slow and Easy for a Barge Cruise in BurgundyStory and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler. Taking things slow and easy was Tina Turner’s advice in her song “Proud Mary.” Well, I’m taking her suggestion these days and the idea of a “slow and easy” barge cruise along the Northern Burgundy Canal on European Waterways barge La Belle Epoque sounded perfect. La Belle Epoque, built in 1930 to mainly carry lumber, is a barge of the Belgian spits category. Completely renovated in 1995, she currently cruises on the Burgundy Canal in central France.

 

 

Carnevale Di Venezia is hot but Baby It’s Cold Outside

Carnevale di Venezia, Carnival of Venice, Carnival, Venice, Italy

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler

Tuesday was the last day of Carnevale – and my last chance to wear one of the getups that were now all bunched up on the bottom of my suitcase. I looked at them with dismay. I couldn’t imagine venturing out in anything so light-weight and there was certainly no way I could layer enough clothing underneath one of my costumes to keep warm. I finally admitted that I would freeze to death in my thin little ensembles. So, attired in almost everything else I brought, I headed for the Piazza San  Marco. My Venetian friends had invited me to come to Venice for Carnevale. They said I could use the studio apartment kept for family and friends.  This was an offer I couldn’t refuse so I arranged my schedule to be in Venice the last week of Carnevale. Then, as an added treat, stop off in Paris for the weekend before heading home.

 

In Italy, the Fire of Mount Etna

The Fire of Mount Etna, Antico Souvenir shop near the summit. This is where shop keeper, Enrico, offered samples of various olive oils.

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler

Mount Etna, Italy. As I stood pondering the wares of the Antico Souvenir, near the summit of Mount Etna, a hand suddenly appeared in front of me, offering a small piece of bread smeared with a greenish-colored concoction. I looked up into the smiling face of the proprietor of the shop. “Signora, piacere,” he indicated for me to taste. I sniffed at the bread. It smelled heavenly. Then I slid my tongue over the paste. It tasted delicious. Happily, I popped the entire piece of bread into my mouth and smiled in appreciation.

 

 

Paris Progressive Supper and Moveable Feast

Paris progressive supper, Eiffel Tower

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler

Ernest Hemingway called Paris a “movable feast,” and I have always agreed with him. On my last night in Paris, I decided to have my own movable feast—a progressive supper, with each course in a different restaurant. I wanted the restaurants to be within walking distance from one another, the last one near my hotel in the 6th arrondissement. I was feeling a bit lonely and disappointed that I hadn’t fallen in love with anyone this trip. I had already told my friends back home that this time I would meet that “special someone” while in Paris. Now, here I was, my last night in town, and still alone.

 

Why I love European Train Travel

European Train Travel, Why I love Train Travel in Europe. TGV train, Riding the Rails in Europe from Paris to Dijon

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler

On my first trip to Europe many years ago, my sister Patty and I traveled around Ireland, England, Scotland, France and Switzerland via our Eurail Passes. I found standing in front of the big departure boards in the train stations thrilling. Something captivated me about those clicking sounds, and then new trains to magical places would appear with track and departure times. Knowing that I could board any one of those trains was a huge temptation. I loved the clicking sound. To me it sounded like adventure. To this day, I love European train travel.

 

Floating the Loire River Canal on the Renaissance Barge

Renaissance Barge, Floating the Loire Canal on the Renaissance Barge, Burgundy, France

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler

“Madame, would you like another glass of Champagne?” “Oh yes,” I replied with a smile, holding out my Champagne flute in one hand and taking another of the delicious tidbits being passed around with the other. We were welcomed aboard the Renaissance Barge by Captain Hadrien Famy and introduced to his crew of four which consisted of two hostesses, Dani and Nicole, chef….

 

Fairy Ring Search at Haunted Waterford Castle

Fairy Ring search at haunted Waterford Castle on private 310 acre Ballinakill Island, Waterford City, Ireland

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Harmon Butler

“There’s a wee Fairy Ring out there in that meadow somewhere,” said the taxi driver as we drove up the long driveway to Waterford Castle from the ferry landing. “Can’t see it from the road but it’s there all right,” he went on. “It’s the truth, lass. People have said they saw some strange things going on out there in the wee hours of a moonlit night.” Was this a fairy myth or could Waterford Castle actually be haunted, I wondered.

 

 

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