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Posts from June 2009

France, Day 4: Napping at the Chateau

Another scorcher - at one point we passed a thermometer that read 37 Celsius, which was later converted for me to over 98. No wonder the hills seemed so brutal!! So brutal in fact, that after another fantastic picnic (todays fave component was a rabbit terrine) under the shade of a tree next to the Chateau Monbazillac, several of us took a glorious nap. After 25k of biking, some of which was climbling, we needed it. The rest of the day was somewhat flat, but 30k in that heat was rough. Pretty, but rough.

Tomorrow, Susan and I are having "ladies day" which consists of riding at a leisurely pace, lunch at a restaurant along the way, and lounging at the pool once we arrive. The boys will be climbing extra hills in the heat to prove their manliness or some such. We, on the other hand, have nothing to prove.

France, Day 3: Hot, Hot, HOT!

Every single Blue Marble bike trip I've been on has been scorchingly hot, and this one is no exception. This heat makes ordinary hills seen tougher, but it helps you earn that post-ride beer.

I'm wiped from today's ride, so here are the highlights: amazing lunch picnic by the river of market goodies and yesterday's wine purchase, fantastic dip in La Lac de la Cadie, fields full of sunflowers, an ice cold bottle of water at a tiny town on top of a hill, and post-dinner stroll along the river in Ste Foy la Grande, still light at 10pm.

I've also been informed by my one of my adopted Aussie brothers that I'd best study up, as the Harry Potter quiz questions start tomorrow. In addition, I proved myself to be a city girl through and through - I couldn't identify young corn plants as such (my Iowan trip leader thought I was mocking him; I wasn't) and I thought the sounds I heard along the river were coming from ducks. It was frogs. Alas, I have led a sheltered city life.

France, Day 2: Let the Cycling Begin

Today was the first official cycling day of the trip - a modest 25k loop through some of the vineyards of St. Emilion. Let me just say, for the record, that cycling through the vineyards of France is excellent balm for the soul, regardless of what is going on in the rest of your life. I highly recommend it.

I've got a fairly small group with me, including a couple from Australia and two of their sons (about 15 and 20), a guy who is about to start law school in August, and our fearless leader, who hails from Iowa. And me. I spent today cycling with the family, as Lyn (our leader) had to fetch Ben (the almost law student) at about 2pm. We rode from St. Emilion towards Puisseguin, where we were enticed by a free wine tasting sign along our route. Mind you, there were vines and Chateaux everywhere. After a bit of vin, some camembert and saucisson sec, we continued to Lussac for a picnic lunch, which included some freshly picked plums we found growing along the way.

We continued our loop back via Montagne after a quick stop back to purchase a bottle of the wine we had tasted earlier. Since it was a short ride, we took a late afternoon tour of the underground relics of St. Emilion, providing a respite from the heat. We convened before dinner for a bottle of the local sparkling rose in a lovely garden, then had dinner. I had asparagus wrapped in a smoked duck ham topped with bits of foie gras, and a simple, yet delicious duck breast. I topped of the evening with an Armagnac.

As I was cycling, I kept thinking of the Simpsons episode where Bart is forced to make crappy French wine and learned French in spite of himself. My French is only slightly better than that. And I think I have convinced the Aussie family to adopt me. Stay tuned.

France, Day 1: Entering Wine Country

I took the Eurostar to France, but instead of going through Paris, I was routed through Marnee la Vallee, otherwise know as the home of EuroDisney. This meant a 10 am train full of screaming children as I was having my morning coffee. Thankfully, after the transfer to the TGV, which took me the rest of the way to Libourne, I was in very quiet car. I arrived to find Lyn, our guide, waiting for me with my bike - apparently it was a 12k ride to the hotel. I, not expecting to ride, was in a black sundress and flip flops. He strapped my suitcase onto his bike, I loaded my tote onto mine, and, fortified by a beer and some saucisson sec, off we rode. Arriving in St. Emilion, my home for the next two nights, we met the rest of the group for dinner. I couldn't resist the foie gras, which I had with a salad and some local wine. Not a bad start to the week!

London, Day 3: Laziest Day Ever

Woke up at noon, puttered around the apartment, went to lunch at St. John.  No marrow bones -- they were saving them for the "feast" menu.  "Made do" with welsh rarebit and a pig skin & pea shoot salad.  Walked home, took a nap.  Got a massage, lazed about, walked to dinner at Teyyabs -- mixed grill (including their outrageously delicious lamb chops), chana, and fish curry.  Home to sleep.  I suppose I'm a little sleep deprived in my "normal" life, either that, or my brain is in full vacation mode.  Today, up early and am getting ready for a travel day -- Eurostar to TGV, ulitmate destination, Libourne, where I'll begin the cycling portion of the trip.

London Day 2: A Lazy Day

Slept over 10 hours, wandered my way down to Borough Market and had lunch at Wright Brothers Oysters -- 1/2 dozen raw, 3 fried, and a glass of muscadet.  Had a shortbread cookie and an iced espresso for dessert.  Wandered around a bit more, then met Rebecca for a drink on the roof garden at Coq d'Argent.  Afterwards, dinner with Christopher and Suzanne at The Modern Pantry including a delicious duck breast dish, slightly spicy.  It was tough to be so close to St. John's without going to eat there, so might have to head over for lunch today.

London, Day 1

After sleeping pretty well on the flight over, I arrived to find a a gorgeous and sunny day (did someone swap NYC and London weather?). Just had a light picnic lunch and read in the park before getting one serious pedicure. Returned for a nap and then had dinner with Sara at the Tapa Room at the Providores, which is sort of Kiwi/global. We split a watermelon and feta salad with pumpkin seeds and pickled walnuts, a fried whole egg, garlicky snails atop of chorizo mashed potatoes, and chunks of grilled lamb with mixed greens, yogurt, and another sauce that was sort of like a heartier, more flavorful tahini on a pita. We finished off with the local cheese plate, including a very mild goat cheese which wasn't half bad when topped with the onion/cherry jam. About to drift off on the brand new aerobed, as its predecessor met an early demise before I arrived.

T Minus Less than Two Days

Flight to London leaves at 11:30 p.m. tomorrow night and heading to Bordeaux by train on Saturday.  Tentatively scheduled activities in London involve seeing friends, strolling, napping, visiting Borough Market, and hitting a spa for a massage and a pedicure.  Might possibly visit a Turkish bath, and if there's enough room in the luggage (I'm attempting not to check my bag) for running and/or swimming gear, will fit that in too.  If not, oh well!

Bad Blogger

I went away for the weekend and didn't even bring my camera.  For shame.  A recap, in no particular order -- grilled pizza, four mile run, oysters at the swanky new Out, a little singing, grilling in the rain, s'mores, Pegu cocktails, hot tub, challah french toast, bacon, more bacon, more rain.  Home early for some interview transcribing and packing prep, and now early to bed.  Thanks so much to Caroline for bringing me along!