The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Big Adventure

mcs's picture

The Big Adventure

So we just got back from our two-week vacation in Europe-   Spain, France and Holland to be precise.

I'm going to roll through some of the highlights, but if you'd like to see a lot more pictures of the Big Adventure, you can check them out on my Facebook page here.

We landed in Madrid about mid-day, found our hotel, washed up a bit and headed out into town.  If you ever happen to make your way there, you should put this place at the top of your places to visit.  The Mercado de San Miguel is an indoor market with lots of booths filled with food and wine.  Yes, and because it's in Spain this means that you're free to eat, drink, and be merry while you walk and sample everything from fresh mozzarella with blueberries on a sliced baguette to a glass of wine from La Rioja.


Next we move onto the island of Ibiza where we visited my friend Helena.  Although its recent reputation is as the party capital of Europe, Ibiza has a rich history with relics dating back to Carthaginian times.  Helna hosted us at her home and gave us a super tour of the beaches, the local foods, and fantastic churches and museums. 


Our next stop was further north in the land of Spanish Wine known as La Rioja.  Two of our friends were generous enough to give us the local tour complete with visits to Logroño, Santa Lucia, and Laguardia.  In the first picture, accomplished sculptor Félix Reyes poses with some of his work and my friend Javier.  Below, there's nothing like a night on the town in Logroño with good friends, food, and wine.


Next, we took the train up to France and managed to spend a night in the picturesque village of Saint Emilion.  Since we were a bit early for tourist season, we had the streets to ourselves as we walked through the town at night after an outside dinner in the evening.


After spending a night in the very scenic town of Tours, we began our three day visit to Paris.  Of course we had the obligitory visits to the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame.  Breakfast and/or lunch was spent touring the various boulangeries- pictured here are Michel Deschamps' and Eric Kayser's.  Baguettes were coming out of the oven at Deschamps, but we opted for a couple of delicious quiches instead.

I know it may be heresy to say on a bread baking forum, but by far the highlight of the Paris portion of the trip was not the baked goods, but our first-time visit to the Palais Garnier.  Back on January 9, I spent between the hours of 12:45AM and 2:15AM 'standing in line' online waiting for tickets as they went on sale for the first time for the Robbins/Ek show titled 'Dances at a Gathering' and 'Appartement'.  It was well worth it as we got front row seats in the center of the second mezzanine. 

If you only have one night to spend in Paris, this is what I would recommend.  I particularly enjoyed the second half of the show which featured the Swedish band Fleshquartet playing live as a modern ballet was performed in front of them. Here's a link to a video of a portion of the show from a few years ago.  It was as good as it gets.

Finally our Big Adventure was capped off with a high-speed train ride to Amsterdam, a visit to the Van Gogh museum, and a personalized tour of the Keukenhof tulip gardens by fellow Fresh Loafian and BreadLab meister,  Freerk.  It was the perfect finale as we saw more colors and varieties than one could possibly imagine and thanks to Freerk, we actually got to and from the gardens without ending up in Belgium, Germany, or just in the water somewhere. 


And thus ends Sharon and Mark's Big Adventure of 2012.  Thanks to everyone who helped us feel the local flavor of their wonderful lands! 




proth5's picture

And you are right.  Nothing - nothing really can compare to a performance at the Palais Garnier.  On my first trip to Paris I blew all of my food money on a ticket.  And it was worth it...

Sounds like a great trip.  And you got to meet "Freerk" who made some ridiculous excuse about trains being delayed to blow me off at the Coupe :>)


mcs's picture

I would definitely forgo food to see another show there.  In addition to the visuals of the Palais, I couldn't believe the acoustics during the performance.  One person walks softly across the stage and you can hear their feet from the opposite side of the the theater!  Unbelieveable!

LindyD's picture

Looks like it was a super trip, Mark - and a wonderful reward for all the hard work you've put in building your bakery.

Welcome home!


mcs's picture

Yes it was a super trip, and it was nice to close the shop for a couple of weeks before the busy season starts.


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I found this "land art" project he's responsible for on Google.

His talent is unbounded. Look at this! MUST HAVE ALL OF IT.

Look what else I found:     (Oops! ;D)

mcs's picture
mcs visit his home/studio while he was working.  Upon leaving he presented my wife with one of the white umbrella carrying figures from his 'Solidarity' project that you have linked.


dmsnyder's picture

It sounds like you have a terrific vacation.


mcs's picture

terrific.  It was a great break although I must admit the country bumpkin in me is happy to be back in the peace and quiet.


calliekoch's picture

But I was expecting (and hoping) to see a lot more bread photos!

Glad you and Sharon were able to take a vacation. I'm jealous. I miss Europe and can't wait until I can get back there one day.


Happy baking,


mcs's picture

bread photos.  I took a couple of bread pictures, but most of the goods I ate from the bakeries were of the pâtisserie variety.  There were plenty to choose from and none of them lasted very long.  I hope the baking business is going well with you, Callie.  Happy Baking.



Janetcook's picture


Thanks for posting photos of your trip and the link to the 'Appartement' segment. My daughter is both a ballerina and a cellist and is amazed when I run across things on this site that include her passions.....she thinks this is 'just' bread 'recipes'.....

How fun to get to meet Freerk....Speaks again of the community Floyd has created here at TFL that reaches around the world!

Take Care,


mcs's picture

If you haven't already, check out some of the other related videos from 'Appartement', also on YouTube.  I am neither classically trained in music nor in dance, but enjoy them both as a spectator. 

Yes, Floyd has created quite a community here.  I've met a lot of TFL members throughout the past 4 years through internships, emails, and even TFL members visiting the area and stopping in to say 'Hi'.  Funny thing is when we refer to other TFL members, we call them by their screen-names.  Therefore you would not be Janet, but instead Janetcook.  When I first saw the screen-name 'Freerk', I wasn't sure if it was a first name, a screen-name, or a combination thereof.

Take Care also,