Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Living in Paradise

So we left off in Dijon...while in Dijon we had great company with our couch surfing host Stephanie (thanks A LOT) found a great market and had a nice picnic and hung out French style in a cafe for the evening. We made a side trip to Beaune where we went to three caves, where they store the wine under the city - there are hectares of wine (thousands of bottles) stored under the city as it has been for HUNDREDS of years! There are bottles that are over a hundred years old! We went on three wine tastings, the first we tasted 13 wines, although some guy follwed us around he didn't speak much and we referred to him as the "mole" since he lived underground and scuttled around very mole-like, the next a girl read everything to us that was posted on the wall while we "experienced" wine through our five sences...we listened to a popping tape of wine being made, saw the different colours of wine, smelled many different things, touch different materials and finally tasted 5 wines, our last tour was hilarious - it was with a big group of old people from Whales plus a couple of couples from Canada and America and our guide was awesome and the tour was great, the old people were laughing and talking so much by the end we were holding up the tour behind us and they were kissing all us young couples and we ended up going for this amazing dinner with the Canadian couple. Denis had escargot and beef tartare and I had beef bourgonon (the area's speciality) and nuggat ice cream for dessert - and some great wine, the service was great the chef even came to check on us twice!

We left Dijon the next day and headed off to Avignon to stay with Denis's aunt - they were so nice. They took us on some hikes to old ruins and to this area where there is red soil and rock formations similar to hoodoos, they cooked AMAZING food and made their own orange wine and nuggat, and they took us to the best ice cream place so far. We went the city of Avignon for the day and saw the Palais de Papes where the Popes lived and Christianity was centered for a few hundred years, it was pretty big and they were pretty lavish, there was an audioguide but it was pretty boring. We saw the Pont de Avignon (the bridge that only goes half way across the river and then hung out French style in a cafe for the rest of the afternoon. We also went to Fort Andre and an old monastery for amazing views of Avignon. Our last day we went to Aix en Provence and saw a church that has been there since the 5th century and has been added onto almost every is a mis-mosh of every style of architecture...but there is a very important carving there which is very old and we got a tour of it and all the sculptures were explained...very interesting.

We left Avignon on Tuesday and headed for Monaco! We are here now and spent all day on the beach! Yes it is that hot! We are staying with Denis's cousin Christian who has an apartment five minutes from the beach with an amazing view of the sea.

Everything has been going so well so far except I fell on the stairs and scraped my knee today but I guess if thats our biggest problem we are doing okay! We are off to explore Cinque Terra, La Spezia, Bologna, and Venice next.

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