I was never one of those travel deal seekers. Sure, when we had our dates for our annual sojourn to Isla Mujeres, I would shop around and try to get the best flight deal. But the dates that we travelled always took top priority as well as staying in a place we knew in a neighbourhood we were familiar with on the island. My sister-in-law on the other hand is a travel deal guru and this how it came to be that we were whisked away to Ireland, a couple of springs ago. In truth, we didn’t even know that we wanted to go to Ireland! But it was touted as being one of those once in a lifetime deals and so it was. Since that time, I too have subscribed to the Travel Zoo weekly newsletter with hopes that one day the stars will align and we will take that dream vacation to Prague, the Azores or Scotland. In the mean time though, Travel Zoo proved to be serendipitous when we were planning a short vacation to Niagara on the Lake. D actually did the booking and so I am not as familiar with the details as he, but as I understand it, we got a 2 night stay where each night was less than the other properties that we were investigating AND morning breakfasts, vineyard tours, a gift certificate towards an evening meal in the dining room and a departure gift of two bottles of wine. For a modest fee, D upgraded us to a superior room and ensured that we enjoyed a full hot breakfast as opposed to the basic one. Here is one little travel tidbit that I have learned with Travel Zoo-their upgrades all represent the same great value as their basic offers, so consider them. In Ireland we changed our arrival city from Dublin to Shannon, went from a midsize to a full size car and switched from manual to automatic shift. These affordable add ons, made a lovely vacation into an extraordinary one.
Still, when we book a deal on line we are skeptical that there is going to be some fine print that we didn’t scrutinize and we try to protect ourselves from disappointment. When we drove up to the Riverbend Inn that afternoon, we knew that we had nothing to fear.
Our home for the next few days was a historic mansion with a fascinating history.
The late afternoon sun was pouring through the terrace doors as we arrived to see our lovely room. With a fireplace in the corner and a gorgeous view of vineyards next door, we were well pleased.
We poured out a bottle of fine wine and lingered in the warm sun. Wi fi was available on the terrace, so we were content to get caught up on the world and life at home.
We saw directly below us that there was a verandah where friends were meeting for a glass of wine and small plates and we made a note of it for the next evening. In the mean time, we had made arrangements to visit old friends who owned the Old Stone Road Grille that evening.
We spied these chairs at the edge of the rows of grapes and concluded that we would not leave the area without spending some time perched there.
Our beautifully appointed room and adjoining bathroom were luxurious and that evening after an incredible dinner, we slept like babies.
Had we stayed longer or the weather had turned out to be not as fair, I could have imagined myself reading and sipping tea in the number of cozy sitting areas that dotted the inn.
These were our views of sunset the next evening.
The dining room and terrace that we had spied the evening before was equally charming and the food was exceptional. The chef “draws fresh inspiration from each passing season while using local specialties. Enjoy farm to table freshness from our herb and vegetable garden located just outside our kitchen doors.” Indeed, it was all true.
This was a sample of our full breakfast-a bacon, cheddar and brussel sprout omelet. D was so thrilled with his basic bacon and egg breakfast that he ordered exactly the same thing, two days in a row.
Later that evening after a day of nibbling and sipping, we were tuckered out and wanted just a quick bite before retiring to catch the football game on TV. The mussels of course were not local but they tasted as they might have been with enhancements of local wine and herbs.
Our special indulgence was the slow roasted bbq pork sliders. The mild yet pleasantly salty meat was made sublime when the fat melted with it on our tongues. Oh my.
Later that evening we made our way to these chairs in the dark. We sipped another glass of the region’s fine wines and contemplated that this inn in this area was like being in rural France or Germany without the cost or jet-lag of a trans-Atlantic crossing, in fact in the province right next door to our own. We marveled anew at all the amazing places we have yet to visit in Canada.
On the morning of our departure, the weather had turned and rain was on the way. This was my last glimpse of all that the Riverbend Inn had to offer.
Kath’s quote: “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.”-Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Love-that is all.