Saturday, October 22, 2011

France Day 1

Thursday, September 29, 2011
My first meal in France was a simple sandwich and delicious. Hard crusty roll but soft inside. Jambon with chevre and vegetables. Marinated and delicious. Peppers, tomato, eggplant, who knows what else. Good stuff.

The diet coke is coke lite and pretty much everything is served warm. I forgot the word for cup or glass. I did actually come up with glace for ice but after the fact. Took a mini wash in the wc to handle my face, breath, put my hair up, put on new makeup, changed shoes and shirt. I feel much better now.

At the TGV station (Gare) waiting for my train. I flew into Paris into Charles De Gaulle airport and will take the train over to Alsace to meet up with my mom. She got there yesterday. The highspeed train will take me to Selestat and then I will just buy the ticket to Colmar either at that station or on the train. So far I am feeling pretty good about this. Trying to take a lot of pictures of various things that I notice. I’m liking this. Which is unusual for me. I usually just put my head in a book.

It's funny but I look around and try to figure out who is French and who is not. Actually I am looking for Americans I think. And I have been wrong a few times. Less of us here than I thought. Train Coming.

The train is amazing! So beautiful and comfortable there is only one other person in the car with me so it is very quiet. Black striped seats, red and black carpet, raised seats, many with tables. So comfortable. I am traveling through the French countryside. I can't believe this. We seem to be picking up speed now. I definitely want to do this again.

A train just went by the other way and scared the bejeezes out of me. So close and so fast. No time for a photo. There is an upstairs to this train and I am on the bottom. For some reason in feel like I am missing out. Wonder what is up there? Is it more of the same ticket level or a lesser ticket? Hmmm. At first I thought being alone in this car would be a good thing. Now I'm not so sure. Could get kind of boring and I am pretty tired already. So put in iTunes and will just enjoy and soak it in. I don't actually have to do anything else. I wonder if I could enjoy this the same way if I were with someone. I kind of don't think so. It would be a very different experience. Amos Lee is good France train music. (Except maybe not the song with Willie Nelson. I really don't like his voice, at all.)   EDIT: I got a first class ticket on the train and the upstairs was for the regular ticket. Someone later mentioned that first class was the way to go on the train.

Leaves are just starting to yellow on the trees. Expanses of patchwork farm lands. Rolling hills with areas of trees. At least near the tracks.

We are about to stop at Champagne. Cool. It is a very modern, mostly outdoor station from what I can tell. But this is THE Champagne.

I seem to have a smile on my face all the time right now. I guess this is still pretty surreal to me. Wow. I am here. Go me,
So if I were to take inspiration for a quilt, right now it would be shades of bright green, large patches and strips. Maybe some brown but I would prefer just the green. Okay enough green pictures out the train window. Actually, I blew through the first set of batteries. Yikes. I guess trying to focus on fast moving objects for over two hours pretty much straight can put a strain on any energy source. Including mine. More yawns, more often. Wow I am tired. It is now 8:03am CA time while it is 3:03pm here. I know I slept a little so I was not actually awake for the last 24hours, but not by much.

Occasionally you can see a river that will meander in out next to the tracks. A few boats have been visible as well. I haven’t seen any locks but did see a tunnel with a light system and some boats off to the side waiting for the okay to enter.

We have slowed quite a bit, a train passed and I'm not sure if we are waiting for another. Hope we aren't late into the station as I need to get my ticket to Colmar and I don't really know where to go.
The houses here are so colorful. And not in the HOA friendly kind of way. This is most definitely in an organic, been here for a long time kind of way. Okay, except for the random very modern sleek structure thrown in every now and then. So funny. There are shades of yellow, orange, reds, even a great lavender or blue.  EDIT: many house pictures taken, some will appear in later posts.

Random thought: I practice in my head the right French words and then I freeze and out blurts the English. Hopefully I get over that this trip.

Buying the ticket in Strasbourg to get to Colmar was an experience. I found the information center kind of place and the woman only spoke une peu of English. She told me which train to take, but I promptly forgot the final destination. Then I had to ask where to get tickets and the line in there stressed me out. Especially since the train I thought I had to take was leaving in less than 10 minutes. Luckily I was wrong, got my ticket and headed to the platform. Then I panicked when the train came in. I got on and then got off again. (Which is not that easy with a 40 pound suitcase and oversized shlep bag.) I was close to one end and didn’t see any conductors around. I finally found one and he said that is was the right train, but my first class ticket was the very last car, waaaaay down there. Made it safe and sound. And again, in great comfort. That was the way to go.
One thing I missed a picture of and am disappointed is the community gardens. At least I think that is what they were. Small plots right next to each other with a few walkways. But everyone had their own style, and many had potting sheds or little storage buildings that were so eclectic and beautiful. Would have made a great photo.
Mom met me coming right out of the train station and the car was parked right there. Kind of entertaining watching Mom with the awkward stick. And then the gears, oh my. That tried my patience. C'est la vie!

This is the most beautiful area. We are literally in the middle of rolling hills of vineyards. Gorgeous. The colors are mostly yellow or very mellow green. Not quite full fall colors just yet. You can see glimpses in a few places, but the over all color is just a wonderful golden hue. Our apartment is up on a rise with a view across hundreds of acres of grape vines. There is a beautiful winery in the mid ground and a perfect French village in the distance. Each of these villages have at least one spire you see reaching up from the vines. Literally just picture perfect.
We met Viv who is the Untour contact, along with one other couple at Auberge du Chevalier Noir in Rebeauville. Wonderful food. Oh my. Great salad which was shredded carrot, turnip, beets and celery root. The celery root was delicious. Okay, everything was, so the celery root was extra delicious. They put out these four piles of shredded veggies with a light dressing over them, along with wedges of hard boiled egg and tomato. Wonderful. Then we had a delicious stuffed poule (chicken) and speitzle. We are in Alsace, right next to the German and Swiss borders, so many influences in this area. Dessert was a three layered merengue and sorbet decadence. Viv explained that France is all about the food and the food experience. The French honor food, and they honor people with food. You will never be rushed. You can sit for as long as you like. They will never bring the check unless you ask for it. Oh, and you can't take it home with you. No leftovers. It is such a shame. But that is one of those ugly American things. I hadn't realized.

We got back to our apartment, up quite the treacherous hill, and just dumped everything and went to sleep. I think I slept almost 12 hours straight. I needed that.

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