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.

Hurricane Darkness

After being caught in the blackout of NYC, I spent some time back home with my parents while waiting for power to be restored at work and my apartment.  It was an inconvenience, of course, but I am thankful to have spent time home with friends and family. I am also thankful to have been spared of anything detrimental, as so many others have. As the days get darker and colder here, I think of all those still struggling with heat, power and damaged homes.

The Dark City of NYC. Creepy!

Living a few days as if I was in the 1800s, I kind of got used to hitting the sac early (i.e. when the sun went down), not having internet connection readily accessible and opening a book instead of flipping on a TV.  I would even say that I felt refreshed when returning to the city.  I now turn my phone off every night before bed, which as little as it might be, is the most relaxing thing in the world. Try it!

I hope you were safe during and after the Hurricane, and I hope that you can find a little piece of positive from the negative, as I have with my “technology breaks” and new goal to read more books.

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.

Independence Day from Rome and then again in France

Today is Bastille Day, France’s National Holiday.  Basically our July 4th but 10 days later.  We are celebrating today with a bbq and some fireworks at night.  And of course watching the parades taking place at the capital.  This past weekend I was in Paris to end Amanda’s visit (more to come about it later) and saw all the preparations by the Eiffel Tower and L’Avenue des Champs-Élysées.  Should be a big celebration!

So speaking of Amanda’s visit, and Independence Day celebrations, I am going to fill you all in on our Italian/French adventure.  Let’s start with Rome, where we celebrated the 4th of July.

Our adventure really began as we boarded the sleeper car which would take us from Dijon to Rome.  An experience I think everyone should have, we enjoyed being smushed in the middle bunk for 13 or so hours!! Only woke up once when our door was knocked on to check our things for pick-pocketers….nice to know they’re looking out.

When we finally arrived in Rome around noon, we hit the ground running. We did the Roman ruins and Colosseum which literally can take up multiple days if you let it. That night we had dinner downtown by the Trevi Fountain. A friend from Dijon had told me to see the fountain at night because it was more magical and less crowded. I have to say that her advice was well taken!

Amanda and I are good travel partners for the most part. We are both easy going and although Amanda likes to be a little more prepared than me, she goes along with my live and learn mentality. So we didn’t really PLAN per say for the trip. We did however print out a little 3 page guide thing of Rome and Naples–our two Italian destinations. They ended up being helpful on the eating front; all we worried about anyways.  The night we went to the Trevi Fountain we knew we wanted to find Al Picchio.  We were successful to find this cute restau and began with a Peroni and bruschetta. It was delicious! We also put in our pizza order from their extensive list. Things were going great, until the girls next to us told us that the credit card machine was down. Damn! We were planning on saving those Euros for things other than eating. Long story short we had to leave after only our appetizer.  Not only were we upset, but the owner was also sad to see us go.   This was the first of many lessons we learned during our trip; lessons about traveling and eating out.  Lesson 1: ask if they take credit cards before sitting down.

We sat at another pizza place (we were by all means on a pizza diet) and although the prices were higher we were equally impressed with the pizzas offered…but they only took cash. See Ya!  Next stop.  Takes credit cards, seating outside…we’re starving:  lets do it! Too bad the food was less than par and the draft beer tasted like the tap had never been changed. We can just chalk it up to being a very bitter meal.

The next day we woke up early and got to the Vatican City. Let me start by just saying that it was SO HOT in Italy. Literally if I couldve just worn my bikini all day long I might have. But I knew that today in the holy city I needed to cover up; or at least I thought I knew this.  I specifically put on two tanks to make sure my bra didnt show, but this isnt what the Vaticanians had in mind….  Rule was to cover up shoulders and legs.  In order to do this we bought the most touristy things you can think of: “I Love Roma” T Shirts and Scarves covered with monuments.  We didnt stick out as clueless American tourists at all…

Dressed in our best, we took a tour of the amazing Sistine chapel and walked up the Basilica’s 500+ steps. It was all worth it and I was blown away!

We ended our afternoon sitting on the Spanish Steps which we happened to stumble upon (our no planning thing works out for us most of the time).

For our second night out in Rome, which just so happened to be the 4th of July, we again searched for a little restaurant from our write-up. Found it but with “no room in the Inn” we moved on.  And this is where lesson 2 was learned: some restaurants are bad and they serve frozen food. Dont eat there…you can find better! But we ate there and drank the house wine from the jug and had the end of dinner Lemonchello shot and eventually found ourselves spending a fun night with PSU alum in a Steelers bar in Rome. Seriously! Happy Birthday America 😉

The next morning we had the only rain of our trip.  Lucky for us and our hangovers we used this morning storm to sleep in!  When we finally got up around noon we were starving…for pizza. Duh!  We stumbled upon the best restaurant of the trip (I’ll get you all the name when I find it) where we ate the best pizza in Rome!  My mouth waters just thinking of the gorgonzola, pear, walnut pizza I ate!

Then we walked to Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (I didnt have my camera the first time) and then went to explore the ‘local side of the city” starting with the Island Tiberina and then the town Trastevere.  I suggest going here if you find yourself in Rome because it really takes you away from touristy things (and traps lie frozen food).  We came back to this side of the city to eat dinner at a “local restaurant.”  It was fun to decipher the language and try and communicate with the waitresses.

All in all Rome was fantastic and made us want to learn Italian and move there…..one day, one day.