Your words of encouragement would be much appreciated, just as they were during my sojourn in London. I want to thank you all for being a part of my life, and I sincerely hope that you’ll continue to be a part of it as I embark on my senior year of college and all that follows it.
Things I love about being back in North Carolina:
- THE PEOPLE! Duh, friends and family. They’re the reason I came back.
- THE SUN! It’s so bright and shiny and warm. And I no longer have to fear an adult-onset case of rickets.
- THE DOLLAR! I can get so much for my money.
- THE FOOD! Of the barbecued variety, specifically. Also, ungodly-large portions.
- THE ACCENT! Southern accents are the aural equivalent of peaches.
- THE CLOTHES! Sun dresses and shorts and sandals and other no-fuss apparel. Color is also nice, for a change.
Our last day in France, we went to Reims to visit the Clicquot factory and tour the local cathedral. Like I said, my camera batteries were dead at this point. So sad. Alas, these two lonely pictures were stolen from a dear friend. That’s all I have.
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Factory. I have spoiled taste buds.
Cathedrale de Reims
Perhaps it’s better, anyway, to end this series with fewer pictures and more words. Because the shivers I get whenever I think about this trip surely deserve more than pictures and captions as recognition. Yet it’s so difficult to describe the magic we all certainly felt throughout our journey, but particularly in its denouement as we realized how very close we were to that magic potentially ending.
Early flights and early train rides meant the following morning was a rush of rolling our suitcases out the door, so that night in Paris was it for most of us. And I’m so sorry I couldn’t walk around after our jaunt to the Louvre for a few last pictures. I could feel the joy of the trip draining from me with every tear, and trust me, there were lots of tears. I wanted so badly to remember the happy moments, the spontaneous laughter, the long dinners that grew into early breakfasts, the late-night chats aided by wine and acknowledging our own vulnerability–like we could share anything with one another. And we did. That’s what I wanted to remember, not the goodbyes punctuated with choked sobs.
Of course, for those of us prone to writing sappy entries like this one, choked sobs are never far from the surface, always threatening to burst from our throats at the thought of a that last Perfect Day or, more solemnly, a life cut short.
So here I am, two weeks after the trip’s end, reflective and still a little sad. But it’s not leaving France that hurt so much as leaving them, those people with whom I’ve shared so much.
Again: I miss you all and I love you so much. I’ll see you soon, but in the meantime… Don’t forget to toast to Tuesdays.
We took an early morning train to Paris, our last stop on the trip of a lifetime. Day seven also marked the death of my last AA batteries, meaning that tomorrow’s post will be tragically void of images.
Cafe de Flore for lunch. It's never too early for bubbly.
Cold chicken with mayo and a side salad (not pictured). After all the snails and cream sauces, I was craving simplicity!
Chocolate Opera, singing not included
Remember that chocolate river in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory? This hot chocolate tasted like the pre-Augustus-Gloop-entry liquid chocolate in that river. AKA liquid heaven.
Our hotel room next to Saint Sulpice
Ivy-covered courtyard in the hotel
More lovely Louvre
Just a quick encounter with Mona
Recalling my childhood obsession with ancient Egyptian culture
A perfect Parisian day
A perfect Parisian view
Dinner at Le Dome, where I had the most amazing lobster
We went to the Musee Jacquemart Andre first thing (the French equivalent of Biltmore Estate, with more art), followed by lunch and a relaxing afternoon touring around Paris. Sometimes, those kind of days are the best.
I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.
I’ve been to Hampton Court, on the outskirts of London, twice in the last month. First, to see Henry VIII’s palace, where actors play out the day of Henry’s last marriage, which was to Catherine Parr. We got to wear robes as though we were members of the royal court and witnessed the many secrets hidden by the palace walls. It reminded me of going to Colonial Williamsburg as a child, but I continue to enjoy playing pretend as a quasi-adult.
Also, historical re-enactments always make me wonder how our society will be portrayed in 300 or so years. How will our generation be presented many years from now? Any ideas? I guess all the actors will have to check their computers/iPods/iPhones/Blackberries often, for starters.
The palace looking particularly ominous
Idyllic gardens, even on a yucky day
More perfectly-manicured gardens
Henry and Catherine
Another day, another English maze solved
Today, we went to Hampton Court for the Foodies Festival. I don’t suppose further description is really necessary, but I would like to add that the weather was gorgeous for an outdoor festival and an impromptu picnic/photoshoot.
Pig pickin', Portuguese style
Picnic, London style
Pork (with fennel and rosemary) + rocket + homemade applesauce + ciabatta
Eaten in five minutes flat
Followed by a garden jaunt
And some laying-in-the-grass-taking-photos
Sheer bliss. I have a whole lot of updating to do about how I’ve spent my last few days, but I’m headed to Oxford tomorrow and must mentally prepare for the giddiness I’ll experience when I see places where Harry Potter was filmed.
I just made a raspberry-strawberry-rhubarb crumble. And for the record, yes, the dessert did make me go weak at the knees, although I didn’t crumble completely. I think we can count my first rhubarb encounter a tangy-sweet success.
Another bus trip day, from Dijon to Vezelay. I posted enough pictures to let them do the talking, I think.
Reaching the church requires quite a climb, but it was punctuated by the most fantastic old buildings.
Potentially the best store location ever, for the view alone.
I rest my case.
Floral canopy, anyone?
At last, the church, with its predictable scaffolding.
Inside, where we witnessed modern-day pilgrims entering in this huge group and praying and singing together. The sight moved even the non-believers among us. (Read: me)
We walked back down to enjoy a long lunch.
Long lunch location
Another escargot starter, just a taste
Here we've got escargot and frog legs on one plate. Nothing says pretension like putting two previously-slimy animals together and calling the combination a delicacy.
Main meal: coq au vin
Mashed potatoes and bread with a side of rooster combs. Cracker Barrel meets French gourmet.
You've seen this cheese plate before, but there's no reason not to bring it up again, even if my first glance at it post-coq-au-vin made me feel like I was going to bring up my lunch in a bad way.
Google Translate calls this dessert "snow egg." It truly was like an egg-and-cream blizzard. Just too much for an already heavy meal, but I enjoyed the poppy crisp and rhubarb flakes.
Gratuitous view of the fields below
Just a piece of Mary Magdalene's bone chillin' in a gold and glass container, assisted by four pilgrims and a nun.
We returned to Dijon, had a light dinner, and then enjoyed our chocolate gifts. Sometimes I moonlight as a woman with self-control, which is why I still have some of these fruit-jelly-filled bad boys left.
Black: blackberry, Purple: black currant, Pink: raspberry, Peach: peach
Get excited… tomorrow is a Paris post.