Filling My Soul With That Which Was Missing

IMG_7449It’s been over two weeks since I was on VACATION!!!!

It really feels like only yesterday. I miss it so much. The first week back was extremely difficult to even get into the swing of life here in New York City. Post vacation depression. Does that happen to you too? Sometimes I even have it when I leave my friends after spending a weekend together in DC or something similar.

IMG_4512In any case, the details of my trip are missing from this blog. I began my adventure in Burgundy (my home away from home) for about five days.  I snuggled with the kids, ate and drank on the terrace for hours, drove through the quaint wine town of Beaune and the surrounding vineyards and even stopped for coffee at my favorite café in Dijon. It was a brilliant mix of activities that filled my heart with what I was missing for the past  four years since living there.

I even had the opportunity to visit the vineyards of one of the wine makers that I now represent in New York City. Emmanuel Giboulot makes very distinct natural wine and it was exciting for me to see each specific parcel. Emmanuel was just getting back from vacation when we met in his cellar on the outskirts of Beaune. After tasting some new vintages and seeing the new label design (which I am so excited about), we took his truck up into the vineyards. This perspective, actually seeing each parcel, is helpful as I share his wines with sommeliers domestically. I can now see where the wine I am selling has come from and the actual terroir and agricultural characteristics. As much as I love drinking wine, being within the rows of hanging grapes is what I love even more. It invigorates me, especially in France while speaking French 🙂

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After the Côte d’Or I took the train north to Paris. I’ll recap next.

Dijon and a Weekend Back on the Vineyard

On arriving to Dijon, and after trying to salvage a double-purchased train ticket, I headed straight to my favorite little Café Dijonais: Bistro Quentin.  When I lived in France, my friends and I always called it “le café rouge” due to its red awning.  This time around, the red awning was still there but the eclectic interior had changed a bit.  None the less, my friend Suzanna and I felt right at home as we enjoyed our afternoon drinks on the terrace.  After catching up with Suzanna, we took a stroll around centre ville.  I love Dijon. It is a small city but has a lot to offer as far as shopping, museums and of course food and wine.  It is in Burgundy after all 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to spend time with Suzanna but also knew that Létizia and the kids were in Dijon for the afternoon.  I was so excited to see the kids, especially the twins because they had gotten so much bigger in the past year.  We planned to meet on the street; I always feel silly when I do that because it’s so movie-like to watch someone come your way.  After getting over the shock of the twins walking and talking, we spent the afternoon shopping and I took over my role of “big sister”/”au pair” tout de suite.  Létizia and I both mentioned later how it had felt like no time had passed.

 

 

I spent that night clubbing with Suzanna and the next few days afterward were for relaxation and memory-making in my small village with my second family.

coucou!!

coucou tout le monde!

I am just sitting here at Café Quentin in Dijon on a brisk Saturday morning.

This is my favorite place to come get a coffee with friends, or alone. The servers are super nice, the prices are very reasonable and the music is right up my alley.  The interior design is also pretty neat. Almost like youre in Urban Outfitters but youre in a café…

AND THEY HAVE WIFI! So if youre ever in Dijon, take a tour around the city center, stop at the Halles Marché to get something fresh to eat and bring it to Café Quentin to grab a nice glass of wine or a coffee.  It’s heaven!

Vente des Vins des Hospices de Beaune

This weekend was jam-packed with activities (love when that happens).

Friday I went into Dijon with friends for dinner and drinks. We ate at the Imprimerie which is decorated from top to bottom as a newspaper.  The menu, the walls, the things hanging from the ceiling. It’s a very cozy and homey atmosphere.  Great for a quick chocolate chaud or a nice sit-down dinner.

Saturday I ate dinner at Libbi & Ben Leroux’s home again (Bonfire night).  It was such a nice evening of conversation between people from France, England, Italy, Spain and America (that’s me!).  So neat to have so many people at one table, sharing a meal and sharing stories.  That night–after Skyping Liz (my friend who was the Au Pair for the Leroux family) I went to bed at their house so that we could get up in the morning to go into Beaune.

This weekend in Beaune was the Vente des Vins des Hospices de Beaune.  Here is the lowdown (if you read French click this): When old wine makers died and they had no children to take over their vineyards the hospital in Beaune, which was constructed to help the sick poor people, bought the vineyards.  The hospices now has 25 hectares of vineyards with which they make their high-quality wine.  So during this weekend, this festival, this auction, all the big shots in the wine community come to Beaune and bid on barrels (these barrels must be bottled in Burgundy).  This year a record was set: 400,000 € for one barrel!!!!

Although the auction is a closed event, people watch from the surrounding courtyards.  The streets are filled all weekend with people celebrating Beaune’s traditions, buying (and drinking) wine and just enjoying the atmosphere which surrounds this fun event.  There are many vendors, parades, marching bands, people dressed in medieval costumes, kid fair rides, dégustations (tastings) of food & wine and of course vin chaud (mulled wine).

Most everything goes on all weekend long but specifically on Saturday there was a 1/2 marathon through the vineyards and the grand event: the auction is on Sunday afternoon.

When we got into town Sunday we wandered the streets a bit before chowing down on escargot (my first time and so delicious with a pesto garlic sauce on top) and then des crêpes and du vin. The crêperie was specially set up for the weekend in an old chapel and was run by many generations of one family.  Libbi, Ben, the kids (Zack and Lexi), Libbi’s parents, brother Johnny and his girlfriend all sat and chowed down on crêpe after crêpe.  We started with meat and cheese filled ones and finished with chocolate ones.  After, I met up with two Au Pair’s from Nuits St. George.  We had been trying to get together for some time and this was the perfect opportunity.  We sipped on mulled wine as we got to know each other.  After some shopping and a stop at the kiddie fair to win a goldfish, they were off and I wandered the streets once more.

By this time it was getting dark and cold (winter is officially on its way here in Bourgogne).  But people still filled the streets and the action didnt die down.  On many corners and through the streets people would perform a traditional dance or song while everyone circled around to watch.  Christmas lights lined the cobble-stone streets, everyone was bundled up and steam poured out of the cups of vin chaud that everyone clutched for warmth.  For a moment I felt like I was in some 1800s European Christmas card.  It was an atmosphere which I loved but also made me miss having friends and family around to share it with–especially when I saw the couples and the families walking hand-in-hand through the streets.

But not to worry, I had my new cozy oversized scarf, a mug of hot wine and I was on my way to end my night on the bumper cars with Libbi and her family.  After a few rides I called it a night (even though a lot of Beaune was still moving–the bars didn’t close until 4am for this night) and grabbed a “hamburger royal” (fries inside the burger) from La Caravane.  I headed home and jumped into a hot shower….perfection!

Cette weekend était top!

I have an announcement to make

So I dont really know how to begin this post other than to say; I have come out of retirement people!  That’s right, I have come all the way to Dijon, France to get back into swimming shape.  For all my fellow retired swimmers, you won’t think I am crazy when you see the picture of this 50 meter, olympic-sized pool.  It makes the list of top nicest pools I have swam in believe it or not!

For all those who are confused about why my plunge back into the pool is a big deal: I swam for over 12 years and the last 8 were highly competitive (ending at the Division 1 college level).  So after spending 20 hours a week staring at a line on the bottom of the pool and slowly deteriorating my body, retirement was a necessary and much enjoyed process.

So I had been hearing all about this brand new (opened in May) facility but had not seen it yet with my own eyes.  The kids and I planned to go swim during the school break but never made it happen and I just never thought to plan a trip (I was retired remember? As much as I wanted to see it, I was not too sure about swimming laps again).

The issue I run into here is that going for a run (the easiest way to workout alone) is a process.  First of all, everything is uphill.  Well, it all starts downhill obviously but what goes up must come down!  That was precisely my issue the first time I went for a run here–felt great, turned around, and realized I had gone straight downhill and now had a tough trip back up to the village.  The second issue is that if you dont take to the road and instead find a nice little path through the woods (after getting a little lost on a muddy trail I did find a nice loop through the woods that is better on the shins and flat instead of all downhill or all uphill), you have to worry about getting shot! Yeah I know, it’s a strange concept and I swear I am not in the ghetto, but I do live in the country where people hunt (la chase) on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.  I go to school for most of the day on Tuesdays and Fridays so it doesn’t leave much flexibility.

Which brings me (finally) to the reason for pursuing the POOL!  And I am so glad I did.  It is beautiful and clean and an easy stop in between my classes in Dijon and my responsibility to pick up the kids from their activities in the afternoons.  It might even be another way to meet more people.  Just today I met a nice Italian runner who is swimming as a way to stay in shape during an injury.  We met because I ran into him–oops.  When we both hit the wall he commented on my fast swimming (HA!).  Little does he know I thought I was going to drown and I didn’t do anything too taxing–I enjoyed the compliment anyhow 🙂

Swimming has and always will be the most therapeutic thing for me–not to mention the sole way I know how to get my body back into shape.  So I am excited to be able to use this nice pool while I am here for the year!

C’est La France!

I have been here a little less than one month and today was the second grève (strike).  It’s a regular occurence in this country and when it happens lots of things are shut down.  Public transportation is slowed, teachers dont show up to class, financial institutions are closed….it’s not just one sector of jobs.

Last night as we tried to figure out the coordination of getting to Louis-Auguste’s school (many teachers participating in the strike) and my school (we will never have off), David explained a little about the grèves.  Basically France is in the process of changing the age of retirement.  This is very basic because everything was explained to me in French.  I do know that David’s friend Roman works for the public transit and he will be retiring at the age of 55! So crazy!  I am going to try to learn more about all of this, but for now all I am worried about is how it affects my day-to-day activities; like knowing what time Louis-Auguste would finish school today. I had to wait twice at the collège this afternoon because we didn’t know if he would finish at 1:45 or 2:45. Not a big deal though because it gave me time to shop 🙂

Fortunately for my wallet (there were about 4 pairs of shoes and 2 bags I wanted) I was unable to change the money I had to Euros….wonder why? I bet you can guess…

LA GRÈVE!!

But it never hurts to try things on,  although it might be difficult if you don’t know your European sizes.  Most things have multiple labels to assist les étrangers (foreigners).  I tried on some super cute trousers I’d been eyeing the week before–too tight. Wonder why???? (HINT: bread, cheese, abondance of desserts) I felt like Liz Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love when she was trying on extra-large jeans in Italy after eating her body weight in pasta. Maybe I am going through my “eat” phase right now?  If so I have some great things to look forward to this year 😉       {side note: went to see this movie in French the other night–way to go me! I was able to understand very well because I read the book. I recommend it to all the girls out there. Javier Bardem=not bad on the eyes}

But anyhow, the pants didn’t fit. So I tried shoes–also a fail.  When I asked the lady to help me find my European size she was astounded that I have a 10 in US.

“non, non. Pas dix”

“oui, dix. Regarde!” At which point I presented her with my foot.

Still couldn’t believe me as she proceeded to have me try size 38 and 39 in a very cute boot I might add (boots with a heel are the French staple).  It was a bit snug and I had to go get Louis-Auguste at school anyway so I left without confirming a size, but I will try again another day.  A day with out une grève perhaps.