Sunday, August 10, 2014

Champagne Region of France

Eric and I have a long bucket-list.... Graduate college (  me), earn his master's degree (  Eric), LOTS of travel wishes (all of us), learn a second language (Isabelle), meet Rick Steves (me), live in a foreign country ( me and Eric), make a difference in someway and be less selfish (all of us), run a marathon (me), sit in the audience of The Ellen Show (both Isabelle and I), skydiving ( Eric), see the Northern Lights in Alaska (me and Eric), hold a baby Panda (Isabelle), volunteer at a homeless shelter (me).... just to name a very few.  I think having a bucket-list is fun!  They give you something to strive for, no matter if it's realistic or not.  Most of Eric and I's "pillow talk" is about what we'd like to do or see someday, and half the time it's just silly and random things we aren't sure we'll ever actually do.  That's the fun part about making a bucket-list though, it doesn't have to be filled with big things, it can be a list of any and all sorts of possibilities.  Even Isabelle has started making one!

Since my life is centered around my tummy (or uterus depending on the day), it's no coincidence that a lot of my bucket-list bullet points have something to do with food.  For example:

Eat a Belgian waffle in Belgium!
   Their waffles were made with a dough rather than a batter...IHOP, take note!

Drink wine in Italy!
   I thought it was very romantic- drinking wine in Venice, Italy, with this guy.

Drink champagne in the champagne region of France!
   Did you know that it's not real champagne if it didn't come from the champagne region of France?!  I didn't.  

We've also eaten real Italian pasta while we were in Italy last summer ( ✔), but I inhaled it before I could take a picture (it tastes nothing like 'Olive Garden' but somehow better!).  And I'm hoping to check off tasting/purchasing olives & olive oil in Greece and eating a slice of pizza in Naples this winter.  Stay tuned for that!

We were all pretty tired from our trip to Berlin & Denmark with the Stueckrath's last month, so we spent the rest of July being a little lazy.  A little too lazy, if you ask me!  I was itching to go somewhere and getting grumpy at how we were letting every weekend opportunity slip away.  But, to be fair, Isabelle has been busy with summer camp, and Eric has had work stuff come up, then change, then change again ever since we got back, so we really haven't been able to make solid plans until now.  So, in case his work stuff changed again, we consulted our long bucket-list and decided that a day trip to the champagne region of France would be easiest if we had to cancel last minute, plus we'd get to make another fun little   off our list!  

Our trip began with an early morning bus ride to the 'Museum of Surrender' in Reims, France (in English we pronounce Reims as Reems, but in French its pronunciation rhymes with France).  The Museum of Surrender is where the Germans signed the document of surrender on May 7th, 1945.  The signing room is exactly the same as it was 69 years ago.

Eric can't get enough of World War I & II history so he thought it was really neat to see the signing room.  I could see his brain devouring all of the different maps so I just left him to it and took pictures.  The museum itself wasn't that big so we weren't there long.  Afterwards we spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon exploring Reims.

Reims Opera House

I really wanted to see the Mars Gate so we wandered the city centered as we made our way to the gate and I just kept snapping pictures.  The city is gorgeous and clean!  Reims didn't feel as "French" to me as Paris did or even Strasbourg did, but it did feel very fancy.  So fancy that I felt like champagne nourished the entire city- like it rained champagne in this one spot on Earth and they used it to clean their windows and brush their teeth.  Go visit Reims and tell me what you think.

The weather was incredible and we could have stayed outside all day!  Next we walked across the street to this monument, but I'm sorry to say I don't know the name of it.

We couldn't get enough of the weather so we ate lunch outside at a really great cafe and then headed over to the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

You would think that after a good 3/4's of a day spent in a beautiful French city, with so much to see and do, that it would be enough to satisfy our little travel hearts, but oh no, we still had a tour of the Moët & Chadon champagne caves to get to!!  With a tasting!!!!!

The bus took us about an hour away to Epernay in northern France, the home of lots and lots of champagne!!

So, I am totally claustrophobic and have serious issues with confined spaces.  I know I've mentioned it before and I really don't want to get into it because even talking about small spaces will constrict my airway, but I wasn't going to miss out on seeing millions (yes, millions) of bottles of champagne, so I bucked-up and went on the Moët & Chadon tour which took us down into the caves that age their champagne.  And only pouted for about a minute.

We went 22 meters (72 feet) underground to the very first level of the caves!  There are three levels, each level containing millions of bottles of champagne!  The caves were pretty big and the ceiling wasn't low so I didn't feel as claustrophobic as thought I'd be.  It could have been the alcohol that kept my mind off of being underground, I'm not really sure.

I almost never use the flash on my camera, but when I'm in a setting that has very little to almost no lighting I have no choice but to use it.  I am looking at getting a 'lightscoop' so that my pictures where I use the flash will come out better than the ones you're about to see (or at least I'm hoping it will help them come out better, I'm still learning all of the quirks about my awesome camera and a lightscoop seems to be what I need).  I've never said I was a professional, but I am a perfectionist, and since I can't figure out Photoshop, I depend on gorgeous scenery to get good pictures.  The caves were gorgeous, but I couldn't capture it.  Sorry, guys!

I couldn't find a year on this really dusty big bottle of Dom Perignon but it looks really old!

After the tasting we got to spend some time in their boutique to purchase some souvenirs if we wanted.  

And yes, you bet, we bought a bottle of Moët Rosé champagne and a bottle of 2003 vintage Dom Perignon!  2003 is the year that my baby girl was born and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy a bottle of Dom Perignon from the actual region it is made, we couldn't pass it up!  The cost definitely helped us to decide on the year of champagne we purchased.  Obviously the older the champagne, the more expensive it was.  Isabelle is the center of our worlds, so we wanted to incorporate her into our purchase, and since we don't intend on drinking it any time soon, a 2003 vintage is the year we decided on.  Eric and I fully intend to save it for a very special occasion sometime in the very distant future!  

As I said earlier it is not true champagne if it wasn't made in the champagne region of France.  "Champagne" made any where else in the world is just sparkling wine.  These are the things that I love to learn about!  And the kinds of little things that makes a traveler more cultured.  Sure, it's probably not a fact of life that is important in the Army life, and I am very sure it's not applicable in the dental field, but I definitely feel more "worldly" after our day in the champagne region of France, so that makes knowing that little tidbit valuable to me!

As we see and experience more that the world has to offer our bucket-list is quickly becoming ridiculous, but I LOVE it!  We've got lots of travel plans over the next few weeks to make up for our being lazy.  Obviously, we are at the Army's beck and call, so anything can change, but I've got real champagne to make my traveling heart happy if the Army decides to ruin our plans!  CHEERS, y'all!!

1 comment:

  1. What you learned about 'Champagne' is actually true for a lot of beverages/ food - for example the German 'Kölsch' beer or 'Parmesan' cheese. However, in some cases American companies found a way around that by simply protecting certain names by patent. The Basmati rice you can buy in the U.S. does not come from the Himalaya as it should and does everywhere else around the world. The company Rice Tec simply protected the word 'Basmati' for the U.S. market…