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A Cook’s Tour of (a Few Bits of) Europe

Feb 12, 2023 | Road Trips, The Grand Adventure | 10 comments

Blow me if it’s not 2023 already. Last time I looked, we were at the tail end of the most glorious summer on record in 2022. We’d enjoyed long hot days and warm sunlit evenings through July and August, and we were looking forward to jetting off to the South of France to chase the Autumn sun.

And suddenly, it’s February.  Autumn’s been and gone. Christmas has been and gone, and I’ve had it up to here (jabs at forehead) with the English winter – with several weeks still to go.

Worst of all, we’re three road trips down and I haven’t told you about any of them!

So, this is the Cook’s Tour version of those trips. You can skim the lot and get right up to date without leaving this page. Or you can make a large cup of tea (or a gin and tonic, I don’t care), find a comfy chair, and enjoy them in a little more detail by following the links (in red).

September: (A Little Bit Less Than) A Year in Provence

Part 1: Sur La Pont, D’Avignon

  • Five days in the magical ancient city of Avignon with everything in walking distance.
  • One of the best AirBnB’s ever (part of a 12th century church).
  • Wedding anniversary complete with free French Champagne.
  • Terrible coffee. Like, the worst ever (made up for by the champagne).

Part 2: Saint-Saturnin-Les-Apts

  • OMG. Everything they say about Provence is true. And four days was not long enough.
  • The best AirBnB, ever.
  • Friends. That’s why we went, and that’s what we enjoyed the most. Catching up with lovely friends from Australia.
  • Very scary, narrow, winding, mountain roads. And they drive on the wrong side. Fast
  • Looks terrible, doesn’t it?
  • All inclusive week in a 5-star, beachfront hotel in Corfu.
  • Perfect weather, great food, free drinks, upgraded room with sunset views.
  • What could possibly go wrong?
  • Nothing in isolation spoiled our enjoyment. It was the multiplier effect of a million paper cuts that turned our Corfu idyll into a Big Fat Greek disaster!  You’ll have to go to the full version to find out why.

December:  Wintering in the Algarve

Part 1: Living it Large in Lisbon

  • Loving Lisbon!
  • From the raunchy caberet show on our first night. . .
  • . . .to the food, views, hills and trams.
  • Centuries-old tiled pavements and cobbled streets.
  • Lovely, friendly Portuguese.
  • Nothing!  No, I tell a lie. There was one night when the heavens opened and we’d forgotten our umbrella.
  • And that’s the only complaint I have about our week in Lisbon.  Loved it!

Part 2: Doing it Tough in Tavira

  • Another wonderful AirBnB. 
  • The weather. 20 degrees in December. Heaven!
  • Pretty little town on the Gilao River in the Algarve, near Faro. Everything in walking distance.
  • The whole of the Algarve which we explored by car.
  • Sharing it with dear friends from Australia. A holiday is always twice as good when it’s shared with others.
  • Not enough time. We’re coming back. In winter again.


  1. Our coffee in Avignon was a mug of lukewarm mud-coloured liquid (we’d asked for cappuccinos, and they had a proper espresso machine). When we took it back to the counter, there were huge apologies and the coffees were whisked away, so we thought we were going to end up with the right thing. The waitress brought the same two mugs back to our table with canned whip cream squirted over the top of the (now) cold mud-coloured liquid. We gave up and went to another cafe where we ordered tea!

  2. I’ve now got more places to add to my bucket list! And I agree with Sue that you need to publish a book or do a TV series. As for coffee, the worst coffee ever was in Mexico where they give you hot water and a jar of instant coffee.

  3. We’ll do our best!

  4. So were we. Thanks for sharing Portugal with us

  5. Ahhh you guys are really living the dream, good on ya “ENJOY”

    Cheers & Beers John & Louise Queenstown NZ

  6. Loving all of your beautiful photos, descriptive blurbs, so very special we were able to share some of your touring around with you

  7. I’d love to do a television series. I often wonder how those travel presenters managed to get the gig. Seems like the best job in the world to me!

  8. Another wonderful account of your adventures in the northern hemisphere Mel. You need to publish a book of all the places you have stayed at and visited. A Mel Wicks version of Michael Portillo’s tv series 😂. 💕

  9. I think it’s time you came to Europe for a trip. What do you say?

  10. Hi Mels, thanks for the laughs . Would so love to be joining you on your travels . We were lucky to catch up with Dinah for dinner and a concert recently, also Trish , Simo and Ramona . Love to you both xx

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