Friday, October 28, 2011

Is it bad that the best part of my trip was George Clooney?

Isn't it great when you get together with a friend you haven't seen in a long time and it feels like no time has passed?  Alison's visit was just that...we started talking the second I picked her up at the airport, and we literally didn't stop until I dropped her back at the airport a week later. 

There were two major highlights of her visit.  The first was our trip to Bordeaux with my friend Lauretta.  On our first day, we set out to visit a medieval wine village - St. Emillion.  I had an idea that it could literally be in the middle of nowhere, but I definitely was not expecting what we saw when we got off the train.  We stepped off the train onto a dirt path (this is no joke!) and were literally 4 feet from a vineyard.  It felt like a movie!
This is what greeted us upon exiting the train!

We set out on foot from the train station in the middle of nowhere to our first wine tasting.  It was at this beautiful chateau!

We were so excited that this was the chateau we had reservations at, that we literally skipped all the way up the long path.  Lauretta and Alison before skipping...

A beautiful room in the chateau that overlooks the vineyards.

After touring the chateau and tasting some wine, we went exploring in the medieval village of St. Emilion.  It is one of the cutest villages I've ever seen!

We toured one more wine chateau before heading out.  This one was know for its underground cellars.  Check out that wall of wine bottles!

Alison and I with some bottles of vintage 1981 wine. 

After an amazing, but exhausting day, we went back to Bordeaux for dinner and to spend the night.  The next morning, we explored the city of Bordeaux. 

We checked out this church at the absolute perfect time.  The sun was coming in at such an angle that the stained glass was reflected pretty much everywhere you looked.  It was stunningly really don't do it justice.

After a day of shopping and being tourists in Bordeaux, it was back to Paris.  We had plenty of other adventures, including touring the Opera House (which I will write about in another blog).  But really, the grand finale was our George Clooney encounter.  Our plan that afternoon had been to go to Laudurée for macarons and champagne on the Champs Elysées, and then head home for a quiet evening with a movie.  Well, let's just say our evening turned out quite differently than expected.

We got off the bus on the Champs Elysées and started walking towards Laudurée, when we saw a whole bunch of American flags on the other side of the street.  Our curiousity got the best of us, and we found ourselves crossing the street to check it out.  We were SUPER confused when we got to a little stage area that had been set up, and the backdrop said something about the Ohio presidential primary.  What?  And that's when some woman yelled out, "This is the premier for the Ides of March!  George Clooney will be here in 3 hours!"

We weren't sure what we wanted to do...was it worth standing outside in the pouring rain for three hours?  It was a hard decision to make, one that we felt we couldn't make on our own.  So we turned to facebook of course and took a poll...the results came back overwhelmingly in favor of us staying to see George.  And that is exactly what we did.
Alison waiting in the rain!

We waited for what seemed like FOREVER.  We were cold, we were wet, we were hungry.  And then, we caught a glimpse of him.  THE. GEORGE. CLOONEY.  More beautiful in person than I could have imagined...seriously, has he had work done?  At first I was excited to be able to get this picture of him:

Then I was excited about this one...

And all of a sudden, he starts walking straight for us (and Jody and Alison start FREAKING out).

This is right after George looked right at us and says, "You guys ok?"  To which I responded with a click of the button on my camera. words came out.  What is wrong with me?!

Here George (we are on a first name basis now) is telling people to chill out.

What was going to be a quiet night in, turned out to be one of the best (and coldest) nights ever!  When Alison went to bed that night, she said, "Is it bad that the best part of my trip was George Clooney?"


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Prague, Portugal, and Parrotheads

Wow - I can't believe how quickly time is passing here in Paris!  Just a year ago, my days seemed endless...I had no job and nothing to do all day.  Now I am working two jobs, have found some great friends, and am truly loving life!  I've come a long way!

Because of my newly busy life, I have had a lot less time for blogging.  So, it's time to catch up on everything that has been going on!  I'll start with the Smith's visit at the end of September.

Since Denny, Jerry, and Carly have all "done" Paris before, we decided to take a couple of trips to other parts of Europe, using Paris as our home base.  Our first stop was Prague, in the Czech Republic.  I really knew nothing about Prague before our visit.  A couple of people had told me it was beautiful, but I couldn't imagine it.  I didn't know anything about Prague's history, its architecture, or its people. 

After seeing it with my own eyes, there is really only one way to describe it:  fairy tale.  It felt like I was literally walking the pages of Cinderella, and that a handsome prince was going to gallop by on a white stallion at any moment.  It is absolutely stunning; quite possibly the most beautiful city I've ever been to.

You can't visit another city without trying some of its signature "dishes".  Here is a cooked piece of dough covered in butter, cinnamon, sugar, and nuts.  DELISH!

Dinner on our last night in Prague

This cute little man asked us where we were from, and then serenaded us with traditional American music!

After an amazing weekend in Prague, we returned to Paris to rest a few days, then set out for Lisbon, Portugual.  Lisbon was beautiful, but in a totally different way than Prague.  Lisbon was sparkling water, white buildings, crisp and clean air, palm trees, and sea food.

The tomb of Vasco da Gama (the 5th grade teacher in me was pretty excited about this)!

On one of our days in Lisbon, we took a train to the countryside to visit some castles.  This medieval castle is perched high up on the side of a hill.  It was a bit of a hike, but well worth the effort!

Standing on top of the medieval castle, with a more modern castle in the background (we went there next!).  

Castle #2...I loved how colorful this one was!

The grand finale for the Smith's visit was the Jimmy Buffett concert in Paris.  Once again, Jimmy put on a fantastic show!  It was especially fun to hear him sing "He Went to Paris"...