Chronicle; In the mind of a champagne expert

Richard Juhlin

Richard Juhlin

RICHARD JUHLIN reflects on this summers travels around some of Europe’s most beautiful places with my loved ones in the sign of gastronomy and champagne tourism in perfect weather. [read the full champagne story] 

Estimated reading time: 22 minutes

This summer I have lived a wonderfully privileged life. I have worked minimally and only on whim when I wanted to. I have traveled around some of Europe’s most beautiful places with my loved ones in the sign of gastronomy and champagne tourism in perfect weather. Three fantastic journeys in different constellations.

First with Ragni and the toddlers in Campania, then with my friend Henrik and the big kids on our little Tour de France, which you’ve hopefully already read about here in the Champagne Club [read the full champagne story] , and finally a little father/daughter trip to Switzerland and Northern Italy with my firstborn Stella. The stress was non-existent and the summer ritual of the mornings was so relaxed and pleasant. No alarm clock and breakfast only when the stomach rumbled. Dizzily awake, I stayed in bed for a long time and checked to see if any funny emails had fallen into the inbox before I started to read the various news apps’ description of the world. I know I don’t need to open the floodgates to the barrage of misery that washes over me, but even though I know I’m going to feel bad, I can’t help it. Namely, I am almost pathologically curious about the world around me and care more about humanity than about my personal well-being, even though my life-enjoying lifestyle and ice-cream profession signal otherwise.

The Ukraine war, the Climate threat, Donald Trump’s way back to power or the march to prison, the NATO process controlled from Ankara, the fall of the crown, the AI threat, integration-linked cultural clash-based conflicts that create insecurity in the entire society with Koran burnings, shootings and murders on the streets of Sweden with teenagers as murderers and sacrifice every day. Terrible news. The bad taste lingers for a long time even though the hotel breakfasts were delicious everywhere we woke up. Sometime around lunchtime, I shake off the state of the world and get down to the day’s lazy exercises. A little bath, a little exercise, a little sunscreen, a little cuddling under the parasol. Hungry again? The holiday problems take over. What should I take from the menu? Which pub should we visit tonight? And what wine will there be tonight? Or is this particular day one of the few evenings without wine?

My lovely travels in the summer of 2023 started as so many times before with a dear return visit to the Hôtel Regina Isabella on Ischia.

Ragni and the toddlers don’t think it will really be summer before we step into the grand reception of the historic hotel and meet our friends. Another year has passed. So much has happened and at the same time it feels like yesterday we last met [read the full champagne story here].

Everything is the same. I also enjoy the homeliness and familiarity of this inviting and timelessly safe environment, but I think Ragni could stay here all summer while I get impatient and want to make excursions after only three days. I did the same this time. First, of course, the annual scooter tour around the island. (See Champagne Friday film no 65), where the terrible thing that was not allowed to happen actually happened. The traffic situation throughout Campania is world famous. The risk-taking of overtaking is at a level several thousand percent higher than that of the Nordic countries. The first time I got there I was in shock, but I’ve learned to accept that it looks like people are going to die at every turn, but that it rarely happens more than incidentally. Unfortunately, it happened this time that the accident happened after our filmed ride. Luckily, none of the four vespas on which we were driven were affected, but instead the fifth one, which was driven solo by poor cold-servant Sara. Suddenly a wild dog rushed straight into the street and ended up under her vespa. The speed was low and she got away with scrapes and bruises. Angel guard and an alarm clock!

On day four, I left the island and set out on my own gastronomic excursion to the Amalfi Coast’s brightest star, Positano via Capri and Sorrento. Positano may be one of the most beautiful resorts our planet has to offer, but the downside to its rumored beauty is that half of America heads there during the holiday months.

Similar to the Cinque Terre in Liguria, over-tourism is now so obvious that the advice unfortunately has to be to avoid these places during high season. Now I was so lucky that my good friend Giancarlo has his whole family back in his home village. Namely, his parents have a small hotel right in the middle of the most beautiful part of the steeply sloping part of the village called Casa Maresca Residence (92 RJ points). There I was allowed to borrow Giancarlo’s old youth room and was welcomed with a contemplative moment of solitude with a bowl of local olives, lemon sprinkled almonds from Santa and a bottle of Tignanello on the balcony.

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