Monday, July 16, 2012

Bastille Day, Bordeaux, and Brits

I'm a little overdue on my posts. I've got a lot of updating, but I'm afraid I probably will miss some details by accident. Here is my view right now...
 I really cannot complain about this view

Let's Rewind a few days to Saturday...

Saturday was Bastille Day in Paris, I've discussed this briefly in my last post but you can just think of it as the 4th of July of France. I had quite spectacular expectations as I was in the capital of the country on that day, but apparently everyone leaves Paris and the tourists all flood in. Nonetheless, it ended up being a perfect day.

I got to finish up quite a bit of exploring and I think I've truly seen ALL major landmarks in Paris, minus this famous cemetery and the sewer caves. I ended up in the Toulleries during a thunderstorm, but none of the French seemed phased. It was strange that this little carnival was still allowing children on rides during pouring rain and lightning?? Oh, the French. I was pretty exhausted actually, so I ended up taking a nap for a little. The night ended great though, Sidonie, Siobhan and I all hung around the apartment until we started seeing fireworks out of the window- yes the apartment location is that good. Since we were so close to the Eiffel Tower we decided to RUN as fast as we all could to catch the end of the fireworks. Little did we know they went on for close to an hour, though it was amusing running with the crowds of French people on their National Holiday. We actually ended up standing next to two guys my age who were both from New Jersey (grew up together) and were backpacking through Europe...Small World!!

The adventure started the next day on my leave from Paris bright and early in the morning and after not nearly enough sleep! I was ready to head out of the city though and start some real french immersion and manual labor. Though I showed up over an hour early to the train station, I only got on the train about two minutes before it left because my RailPass was being so frustrating and people weren't all that helpful. Thank goodness for the lady at the ticket office who was extremely friendly and great at English. The train ride to Bordeaux took about 3 hours, not too bad for going across the country. I'd like to say it was an amazingly beautiful ride, but I pretty much slept the entire trip!

Bordeaux is a beautiful city, far surpassing my expectations. It has the old architecture look of Paris but on a much smaller scale and slightly more charming. I spent a total of 6 hours in Bordeaux, about two in total at the train station. I would've wandered more if I didn't have to lug around my two backpacks and purse! Regardless, I probably ended up walking about 5 miles throughout the town. I found a cute little cafe recommended by Hannah called "L'Autre Petite Bois". I just casually sipped on some tea, ate some great food, and watched people traverse a great little square with a few other cafes. Thanks for the recommendation!! I felt so trendy and Beyonce was playing the entire time so it had to be good, ehh??

I walked through the town and down to the river expecting a large park, but in its place was the Championship BMX competition of France. Actually pretty entertaining to watch, but very abstract to me. They had a great course with bank turns and bumps built up right in the park and it was packed!! I ended up heading back to the train station early afraid I was going to lose the motivation to walk back before my train left.

Now that train ride was beautiful! I got to see the transition from city to countryside almost immediately, and this country side is all vines :) Fearn, a great older British man who owns the vineyard with Andrea, picked me up at the station and we winded on some roads until we came to Chateau Brandeau, quite a gorgeous little escape. I was welcomed with a glass of wine and friendly English-speaking people who'd all been at the vineyard for over a week. There are three young women with me, one Danish, one British girl, and one Australian. Wait till you hear my accent (if I get one), when I get back!

I've actually started thinking in a British accent and I quite like it, so do read this post with such a voice in mind. Perhaps when I return I'll be a bit more sophisticated sounding like all of these Brits. Though truthfully, I always think in a British accent when writing letters and documenting trips like this :)

The food here has been wonderful, we had a nice outside dinner with homemade organic local products. Could I ask for anything better? But, I won't make this all about the meals, I'd just say I've encountered some great chefs :)

We woke up bright and early when it was still a bit chilly, but that kind of refreshing chilly you welcome in the summer. Not a cloud in the sky all day! The day went like this and I believe it will probably stay similar to this routine while I'm here, except this weekend when I'm off.

7am: breakfast and tea/coffee
7:30: hit the vines

    I learned levage and another word I can't spell. Together it basically means we go to each vine and make sure they're standing vertical so their fruit can grow well. I've got some great and patient teachers here. We then cut off the tops and useless other parts so the plant can focus its energy on growing the grapes. I also learned, interestingly enough, that its best to stress the grapevine by not watering it often, because under stress a plant focuses its energy on reproduction. Well the reproductive part of grapevines, is the fruit itself. Plus, too much water=mildew and mildew=rotten grapes. They've had a big problem with mildew here since its rained so often this month. Yet, today was a gorgeous day, it never went much above 80 degrees (they all talk in celcius here so they said it was about 25 and i responded with a way jose, this scenario may not have actually happened but they do all speak in celcius).

9:30: Tea/Coffee with the neighbor who just bought a summer house here and is fixing it up...its beautiful
10: Back to the vines
12:30 Lunch (the ended with coffee of course)
2:00pm Back to the vines
4:00pm: Head back
4:30: tea/ Coffee
Relax until dinner. Dinner time unknown right now

I've learned a lot about the struggles of a small vineyard and artisan production and just farming in general since the weather sometimes destroys all crops. I've also learned a bit about life in England, Denmark, Australia, and prospective winemakers. It will be great to sit down with Andrea and Fearn and really pick their brain about this sort of life. I'm so far enjoying my stay here and I'll keep you posted on interesting things that happen, though probably not as long and detailed as this one. I'm here until next Tuesday then I head off to Nimes.

Thanks for reading, I miss you all. Here's a picture of the plums I just grabbed from a tree in the yard, incredible delicious...I'm considering planting one at my future house! Oh and to all my sheep lovers here, there are about 30 sheep and their lambs wandering the property, I've only seen them from a difference but I think I've got to go say Hi sometime.

Well, I best enjoy the view and get away from all of this technology. I'm a bit to plugged in right now.


1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Anyone watching or talking about the Tour de France? Do you think you will run into any of the cyclists? Get that plum recipe!! MOM XO