It was supposed to be a fun day. What could be better than a day of chocolate, wine, shopping, apples and apple pie? Even the threat of fog, afternoon rain and a cold front couldn't dampen my spirits. I had looked forward to this trip for a few weeks now. I love Vermont and this full day bus trip with a friend seemed like a perfect excursion. I was up before dawn, showered, dressed, grabbed my early am yogurt and berries, walked the dog and jumped in the car to drive to the pick up destination. The bus was early, everyone was excited- on time and ready to roll with time to spare. Chocolatorium here we come!
With a quick stop to pick up more passengers (and then a ridiculously early stop for coffee and bathroom break- really? after only half an hour on the road??) we hit Route 7 and continued on our way through Hoosic, around Bennington and into East Arlington, VT for our introduction to the history of chocolate, chocolate tasting and of course ample opportunity to buy chocolate of any and all varieties!
Also scheduled: lunch, shopping and general merriment at The Vermont Country Store in Weston, A tour and wine tasting at Honora Winery with time to shop their award winning wines, and a stop at the Apple Barn for a tour, coffee and apple pie (ala mode of course!).
At the Chocolatorium we learned about the history of chocolate and watched a short (an interesting video about the harvesting of the seeds of the cocoa tree and how the seeds are dried etc. to become chocolate. We each had a small box of chocolates which we tested with guidance of our host (aroma, snap, after tastes....) and learned the differences in chocolates/ chocolate blends (and what can pass as "chocolate" but really isn't!). It was both informative and fun- and left me with a bit of a sugar high (smile). Just the aroma of the place was enough to put a smile on your face. What transpired next, however, did not make for happy smiles.
After our chocolate pleasure we re-boarded our bus to discover that it had suffered a breakdown and was not about to start no matter what our driver did. 36 people, one driver and one tour guide- stuck in Arlington where the only shops were the chocolate shop we just exited and a "florist" shop.
Now think about those people stuck on an airplane on a runway for hours on end- no working bathrooms, no air, no food....you've all heard the horror stories. Well, this wasn't all that bad in comparison, I guess. We at least had the port-a-potty outside the chocolate shop, the shop owners were genuinely concerned for us and kept bringing out samples of chocolate and fudge and small bottles of water until the water ran out.
We could exit the bus (before the rain and cold hit) and walk up and down the road...and generally just wait it out. And wait we did- for over 4 hours!!
So much for the winery. Then as time passed, so much for the Vermont Country Store. It was also very obvious that there was not to be a speck of food anywhere to be had either. I never thought I'd say it, but the thought of only chocolate being available as a source of nourishment- well it was a bit sickening.
By late afternoon, a smaller bus finally arrived from Albany (mind you now- it is Columbus Day Weekend- and the height of "leaf peeping" season!) with barely enough seats for us...we almost had to draw straws to see which of the last on the bus had to sit with the driver and Madame Tour Guide had to sit on the bus steps. OK, so I won't complain- the seats on this new bus were quite comfy- as it was definitely one of those "party buses"...tables up front for four, "disco lights" along the upper ledges....need I go on? The lights never went off, the air conditioning continued to chill us all to the bone, but we made it to the Apple Barn where the coffee was HOT (and very good!) and the pie was delicious. Of course, ANYTHING would have been good by 5PM! Again, I won't complain- I was able to get the Vermont Maple Syrup I promised youngest daughter (can't get good Vt. Maple Syrup in the U.K. you know!), bought myself some pumpkin butter, honey crisp apples (my most favorite apple), and one big ole candied apple covered in crushed nuts which I intend to eat a slice of each and every day until it is totally gone! I do have to watch my girlish figure, you know! Nope- won't complain (until next week when the tour company will definitely be hearing from me, and most likely 34 other people!).
On a brighter note, maybe it wasn't all that ill fated after all. I did get to meet "Cocoa". Enjoy this little slide show. It is all I have to say I was on a "Taste of Vermont Tour"!