My Aussie in-laws often travel with friends; when they travel on their own, they inevitably make friends that they then travel with later. They love it! I had never considered it – until one of our friends mentioned that she thought it would be fun to rent a house for a week and get the gang to go and stay there. In France. Before I knew it, three couples had signed on and we had set a date and rented a house in the Dordogne region. None of us had visited that area, so were excited to explore. Unfortunately, we were also unfamiliar with the little windy roads and the distances between places. Towns that looked close on the maps took hours to get to and we wound-up driving a lot more than we had envisioned. We did however manage to find some time to spend at our house – a 5 bedroom chateau close to the river. It had a large kitchen that we could all work in, and we felt very European as we shopped at the local village market and brought all the goodies back for a fabulous meal. I was starting to like this whole friend travel thing. I liked it even more when we were able to arrange for a group tasting at a small family-run winery outside of Cahors. The owner/winemaker at La Gineste was a very welcoming and interesting man, and he and his wife had prepared a plate of cured meats to nibble while we tasted their lovely wine. And then they brought out a cheese platter. And then there was some cake, to have with their most robust wine.
Three hours later we had toured the winery, tasted everything they bottled, and stuffed ourselves with the “tasting accompaniment” which we had been assured repeatedly was “not lunch”. It was one of the best days we have ever spent with our friends.