Wednesday, July 8, 2009

04-07-2009 (Week 25) - Nice et Monaco

This week Paige and Frenzel made their way into town. They came in on a Wednesday, and unfortunately, didn't stay that long, but we had a good time anyway. We went out to some nice typical French meals when they got here, and I even got them to try some foie gras (which I believe only Frenzel took a liking to). And because it was 4th of July weekend, I had that Friday off, so we used it to our full advantage.

Our first mini trip was up to Albi. That is a small town only about 45 minutes from Toulouse. It gives off the typical quaint French feel. We took a tour of the massive church there, as well as visited a famous art museum there (featuring Toulouse-Latrec).

Our next trip was up to Nice to watch the Tour de France. I have a friend that lives in Nice, so it was convenient for us to take a train up there for the weekend. After spending the first night in Nice, we spent the next day walking up the mediterranean into Monaco. Monaco s its own separate country surrounded on three sides by France and by the sea on the fourth. It also happened to be the starting point and first stage of the 2009 Tour de France. It should also be noted that I introduced both Paige and Frenzel to Pastis as well (and again, it was only Frenzel who took a liking).

After our long walk from country to country, we found a spot to watch the first couple of riders launch out of the gate. We took the trip to Monaco with a couple of cycling enthusiasts, so it was nice to hear more about the sport during its most popular event. Once we scoped out our location, we were immediately star struck by Lance Armstrong casually riding by during his warm-up. We were able to see him 'launch' off the starting block before we spent the rest of the day meandering around Monaco watching all the different riders. It was a very fun day, and Lance only finished 40 seconds back of the pack (he was temporarily in first when he finished). Although I didn't get to see much of Nice besides the Tour. I wouldn't mind going back at some point.

We headed back to Nice after the riding was over and got ready for stage 2 of the Tour/4th of July. Walsh had an apartment on the street the Tour would be riding down, so we brought down a table, did some picnic shopping, and had ourselves a fourth of July cookout right on the street in Nice. This cookout was complete with the watching of Joey Chestnut down 68 hotdogs in 10 minutes. What an incredible athletic feat. In honor of this American victory over the Japanese Kobayashi, we wrote all over the streets of Nice in celebrtory bliss.

The Stage 2 tour was over very quickly. During stage 1 in monaco, we were able to walk around and soak in the Tour. Stage 2 was a blur. The riders had come and gone within seconds. Although they did try to make a big spectacle of it. Before the riders came through, they had all the sponsors drive through in parage fasion (although at about 5 times normal parade fashion speed) and throw things to the crowd. So we caught as much 'swagg' as we could while we feasted on grilled sausage and watermelon. As the Pelaton came and passed, so to our time had passed in Nice. It seemed short, but I will always remember watching the Tour de France. Paige, Frenzel and I took a sleeper train back to Toulouse were it was off to work the following Monday...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

28-06-2009 (Week 24) - Perpignan

Bonus Blog:

This weekend went very quickly. It was Brian London and Aaaron Ticknor's last weekend in France, so we went into the weekend with the goal of trying to make them miss their flight. Fortunately for one of them, that didn't happen. Although that person did bail out on us in the middle of walking into a discotech....
This night involved me wearing Doherty's clothes to have the ability to get into a discotech, and someone getting body slammed to the ground by Brian. I still can't recall exactly how that went down.
The highlight of the weekend, however, was when Doherty and I packed our bikes into the back of the car and drove to Perpignan. We stayed in some old hostel with a very crotchity old man at the counter. But we basically spent our day either on the beach with topless European woman, riding our bikes up and down the coast, and getting ridiculously burnt in the process. So burnt that I have put together a video to show you how bad it actuall was...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

20-06-2009 (Week 22-23) - Bordeaux et Paris

This week Becky and Chris came into town. After they arrived safely, we spent the next day heading out to the Bordeaux region. It was in St. Emilion where we embarked upon our wine tasting adventure. After trying to convince the nice young woman that worked at the information session to give us the inside edge on where to go taste wine, we sulked out with a map and 100s of wineries to choose from.

The first place we visited was the Clos de Menut winery. This was a nice visit because of their cellar. It was a massive cellar packed full of wines dating as far back at the 50s. And of course after touring their fine cave, we managed to sample a few wines there as well. After having a long french lunch we eventually made it to another winery called Chateaux ... This was a great experience for me because the person working there didn't know much english, so I had to put my French skills to the test. It turns out that I passed (At least I think), because I was able to relay most of the information he gave us to Becky and Chris. And it was a success for that Chateaux as well, as we walked out after having shipped 12 bottles back to the U.S.

After we left St. Emilion we made our way to Bourdeaux to try and scope out some dinner. Turns out we didn't have a whole lot of luck, but all in all, we still ruled the day a success. On a side note, on our way out of St. Emilion, we saw a Harley Davidson bike gang (at least 15) drive into St. Emilion on their Harleys. Must've been an interesting site for the people of that small French town...

The next few days while I worked Becky and Chris headed down to Barclona. Then later in the week, we headed up to Paris. I was lucky enough to have my company send me on a trip to see the Paris Air Show there. So I drug Becky and Chris along because I thought it would be nice for them to spend some time in the famous city as well.

I was preoccupied with the airshow while I was there, but I'm sure that didn't bother Becky and Chris as it gave them a chance to explore the city without an annoying little brother around. We did hang out several times though including Becky's first escargot tasting, a fine french restaurant recommended by Rick Steves (and I even made reservations over the phone), and the catacombs.

While Becky and I were separated, I got to see some more sites that I missed the first time I visited Paris. I got a chance to see the Sacre Coeur (famous church) and a Picasso Museum. The Picasso museum wasn't as interesting as I had imagined, because it was mostly his earlier work before he got all crazy, but it was still interesting.

And of course, I got to go to the world reknowned Paris Air Show. This is probably the greatest spectacle in my industry. It gives aircraft companies from around the world a chance to come together to schmooze each other and show off some of their latest equipment. It was filled with great planes, a great airshow, and tons of companies. The best part about it was that Spirit gave us the chance to go to their Chalet to watch the air show. This was a big deal to me, beacause they put us up in this posh room with free drinks right on the air strip with front row seats to the show. And afterwards, they even decided to serve us lunch.

All in all the trip was as success. Becky and Chris had a good time. And I also might add I was proud of my sister for her French knowledge and mastery of the metro system (which is quite grand). Becky and Chris left for Denver from Paris and I made my way back to Toulouse...