Kathy Swank-Wilson

Kathy and Andrew

Kathy Swank-Wilson

It's been a long time coming but we are finally going to live a bit of "la dolce vita". We are traveling around Europe for 6 weeks in an RV before heading off to live in New Zealand and start a new relaxing and exciting chapter of our lives.

Europe » Switzerland » North-West » Gimmelwald October 11th 2009

9/10/09 It was a cold, loud and restless night with little sleep. According to Andrew, we had to be out of the parking lot by 7am. Around 6:30am he headed to another parking lot for breakfast. I fell back asleep and woke an hour later in yet another parking lot. He just kept moving us around like fugitives on the run till the campgrounds opened at 9am. We finally got to the campground and got a little shut eye till 10am. We then headed down the river to catch the Gondola up to Gimmelwald and Murren. The view from Murren was breathtaking. We were surrounded by the King of the Alps mountains. We had lunch in front of the famous Eiger mountain, snow capped at 13,000 ft. and the majestic Jungfrau, the tallest (13,600 ft.) and ... read more
Alpine farm

Europe » France » Rhône-Alpes » Mont Blanc October 8th 2009

9/9/09 Andrew rode his bike all the way around Lake Annecy this morning, about 70 km, while I took a hike through the forest. A great way to start the day inclusive of our fresh croissant and coffee. We wish we could stay longer in Annecy but since we can’t, we are taking the long way out of town around the lake. A beautiful drive all the way around. There is only one section of the lake that is dedicated to beautiful waterfront houses. Lucky people with a view of the lake, the city and mountains. We are off to Switzerland today and are taking a detour through Mont Blanc before we climb into the Swiss alps. We passed a lot of green farmland on the way. The mountains got bigger and bigger with each switchback ... read more

Europe » France » Rhône-Alpes » Annecy October 8th 2009

9/8/09 We woke early today in beautiful Sarlet France to to get ready for a long day of driving to get to Annecy, a lakeside town just southwest of Geneva, Switzerland. We drove about 350 miles today so once we arrived in Annecy it was about 5:00pm and we were ready for a stretch. The only way we know about Annecy, is that a stage of the Tour de France went through there this year. Andrew has heard that it was a nice town and a lot of cyclists live there to train. We found a campground we knew was close to the lake as we could see a glimpse of blue from our site. So we unpacked our bikes and headed to explore the town and lake. The traffic was a bit hairy as it ... read more
Annecy - Nice ride
Annecy - Canal

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Dordogne September 17th 2009

9/7/09 Today we were off to more small towns in the Dordogne to infiltrate some more castles. Most of the castles we have seen have been more elegantly decorated homes with good security than a true castle for protecting a village. Castlenaud promised to be that fortress we were looking for. It was a true fighting machine and was built in the early 12th century. The castle was sized many times and turned over power at least 20 times during the 100 years war. We saw cannons, gun ports, towers, armored suits, trebuchet and tons of other weapons of warfare. It was amazing to see all of that effort went into protecting this small village. We saw a jet fighter scream overhead and thought how ironic. Things really haven't changed that much have they? We needed ... read more
Marqueyssac Gardens
Dordogne view

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Dordogne September 17th 2009

9/6/09 It was early this morning but Andrew couldn’t resist a ride in the Dordogne hills. We headed off to see the cave of pre-historic man today. The first cave we arrived at was the Lascaux Cave in Montignac, France. This is the home to some of the oldest cave paintings of over 17,000 years old. The original caves where damaged by letting people in and the carbon dioxide (see, Global Warming). So, they made an exact replica right next to it as to preserve the original art. It was amazing and almost as cool as the Sistine Chapel paintings. Most of the paintings were of bulls, buffalo, horses, deer and other animals. The colors were brilliant and made from iron oxide powders. They used different techniques to paint such as crating carving knives, brushes, and ... read more
Castle Losse
La Roque Caves
La Roque Caves

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Dordogne September 15th 2009

September 5, 2009 - Salat & Dordogne River, France We walked down this morning to Sarlat as today was the big market day. Once we hit the village we were amazed by all of the vendors and booths that had appeared overnight. They must have started brining people in at 2 am. The food was amazing. Butchers were there with fresh meats and sausages and fresh fish. Huge wheels of cheese, which we tried several. And of course tons of people selling and letting you taste fois gras. The fruits and veggies where most impressive as you bought them from the local farmers. I tried to buy just a couple of nice peaches and got yelled at from the farmers wife. I assumed I couldn’t buy only a few as she kept loading me up with ... read more
Dordogne - Castlenaud
Dordogne - La Roque-Gageac
Sarlat Market

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Dordogne September 15th 2009

9/4/09 - Sarlat, France The drive to Sarlat in the Dordogne was fairly short and the countryside green and lush dotted with sun-kissed gold stone chateaus and cottages. Sarlat was to be our base for 3 days while we explored the region. This area is known for goose liver pate and fois gras.  We saw tons of geese farms on our way in to town and I made Andrew stop and take pictures. We found brochures in our tour books from 1999 which is when we started thinking about going to Sarlat and the Dordogne. Andrew bought me a big picture book from the area many years ago and we have been wanting to go ever since. We found a lovely campground (Pierre) that was only a 10 min. walk downhill to the medieval village. ... read more
Sarlat, France
Golden Geese of Sarlat

September 4, 2009 - Rocamadore, France We are off to Sarlet today our base for The Dordogne, a place we have been collecting brochures for since 1999. The countryside was winding, filled with forests and cliffs and green valleys dotted with farms, chateaus and castles. The sky was very dark and if looked like the rain could start any minute. we rounded a tree-lined cliff and saw the most incredible medieval village jetting out of the side of the jagged mountain. The buildings had no back walls to worry about, just cliff.  As we were about to get out of the van and hike up to the village of Rocamadore when the skies opened up. Cool, I can finally use my new raincoat and umbrella (exciting for someone from Southern Cal.). There was a little ... read more
Pilgram stairs

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Avignon September 14th 2009

September 2, 2009 - Provence, France So instead of going thru the tiny roads of the Verdon (Grand Canyon of France) region, we went through the tiny roads of the Luberon National Park. Funny how fate leads you in a direction and boy was this direction scenic. What a beautiful drive through Provence. They must have just cut the lavenders back as we can see field after field of them but no purple flowers. Still, breathtaking. We arrived in the “Venice” of France which was a village called L’Isle-s l’Sourge (you should hear Andrew try to pronounce this). The town is settled on the river with canals running throughout the town. Not really like Venice but stunning nonetheless. Antiques keep the town alive and it looked like they had some beautiful things - unfortunately we where ... read more
Pont du Gard
Pont du Gard

Europe » France » Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur » Provence September 11th 2009

9/1/09 - Provence - Cote d'Azure A long driving day today to get from the Italian Coast to Provence, France. We took the high road which overlooks all of the ocean towns. Great views without having to deal with the traffic. We went by Portofino, Genova, and San Remo before entering the French Riviera. Each town trumped the other one in beauty. In France we overlooked Monte Carlo, Monaco, Nice and Cannes. We have both been to these places so we just wanted to get to Provence. We entered a region called Verdon which was called the Grand Canyon of France. We went from beach to huge rocky mountains in hours. We virtually had the roads to ourselves. It looked like Colorado, not France. The roads started to narrow and we got onto a smaller road ... read more
Castellane France
market day Verdon

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