Thursday, April 15, 2010


And here is my Bordeaux post! I absolutely loved Bordeaux, just as Italy. It is a fairly small town with surprisingly, a lot of attractions and things to do. 
This is their Opera house, it was in a huge open square. Interesting because the city has a lot of open space, and just as many Range Rovers as LA. So contrary to Paris!
This is just a gorgeous building thrown in the middle of the city. No significance, just a building. ????!!!
We climbed to the top of a tower (we seem to do that a lot in every city) and had a perfect view of the whole city. This is one of their churches, Cathédrale St-André, quite similar to Notre Dame, i'd say.
This is a photo of Bordeaux's new courthouse. Interesting looking, no? The security guard surprisingly let us in and showed us around. Each of these eggs are trial rooms. They look a lot similar to boardrooms and have windows on the outside for spectators to watch the trial. What a strange concept I thought! Like I said, the building is fairly new, I think built in the past 5 or 10 years. Interesting seeing as the rest of the city is 100s of years old. 
It seems to me that Bordeaux loves them some animals. This is a statue in the gardens of the Musee des Beaux-Arts. (Time didn't permit us to go inside, but I hear there are a lot of famous works in there and that it is a really gorgeous museum, so if anyone has the opportunity, it is highly recommended!)
And again, the animals, with these turtles in the middle square of the city. No plaque or anything near it, just hanging out. (In the photo, my brothers Horacio and Patrick, and of course, Caroline)
We spent Sunday in St Emilion, wine country of Bordeaux. It rained heavily off and on, but that was alright seeing as we spent the majority of the day in cellars. A bit off season so the vineyards were not as pretty as I hoped they would be.  
Photo of the whole group. I think that's a first that we have all been together, besides the welcome dinner.
My first wine cellar experience! Moldy, damp from the rain, and quite tempting. Walls upon walls upon walls of wine bottles, dating all the way back to the french revolution in the 1800s.
First wine tasting experience, with one of my roommates (colocation in french) Sara. The first tasting we did, we had a really funny German connoisseur. He looked like he has been there for 100 years, and knew so much about the wines. We all found one that we absolutely loved and ended up buying a bottle for each of ourselves. I saved mine for when Margaret was here and we drank it together the last night before she departed.
This was our second tour. He gave us a look around his family vineyard, taught us how to actually make the wine, showed us his personal cellar (astonishing, but he didn't allow photos. I'd say there was easily millions of euros worth of wine in there). This guy really really knew what he was talking about. He gave us tips on cheap wine that is actually good, for us students on a budget, taught us about the history of wine making, and how to ACTUALLY go wine tasting.Quite a hysterical method to it. 
Step 1. Smell the wine. Step 2. Swirl it in your glass to bring alive the REAL odor of it.
Step 3. Smell again.
Step 4. Hold the glass up to a white sheet to see the actual color of the wine.
Step 5. Take the wine in your mouth, and make a sort of taco with your tongue, slurping the wine through it. This made us all giggle because he didn't explain the steps before he did them, and we were all awkward about the noise he kept making with his mouth. I guess the reason for this is to separate the taste of the alcohol with the taste of the wine, yet again to get the true flavor and odor of it.   
After the tasting, we took a tour of the city, with some really really interesting ruins and catacombs, but no photos were allowed, so Im sad to say I have no evidence. The tour was given in French also, so I only got snippets here and there of everything. It was just quite fascinating because this little city that probably doesn't even have internet has more history in its pinky than all of California combined. (One of the reasons I'm so obsessed with the EU). 
After the tour, we climbed to yet ANOTHER mountain top. So many lookout points all over this continent! Always the same. Most narrow, steepest stairs ever, up to a little landing with no barricade to keep you from falling off. For this reason, I steal all my lookout pictures from Caroline. I usually trek to the top, but not long enough to be able to take photos. Definitely not for the claustrophobic or those with fears of heights. Having that been said, here are some photos of the actual wine country, props to Caroline for doing the hard part for all of us. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Florence, Pisa, Lucca

Ah I am sure that you ALL hate me because it has been like 3 weeks since I have posted but I truly am sorry and I have some GORGEOUS pictures to make up for it! I just returned from Italy today, we went to Florence, Pisa and Lucca for a long 4 day weekend. I am now OBSESSED with Italy. It is such a gorgeous country and I cannot wait to go back next week for spring break.

To start it off, here is a picture of the main square in Florence, it is the oldest square in the whole city and the buildings date back to ancient roman times.  This is the center of the city, with town hall, a copy of the David statue, and many others as well.  The Duomo is one of the main attractions of the city, with architecture is similar to that of Barcelona. It is absolutely gorgeous on the outside but completely empty on the inside... weird.The real David! I learned so many facts about him. Took what felt like a 2 hour tour all about the statue. For example, did you know that his pupils are heart shaped? It was forbidden to take pictures in the museum so I only snapped the one, but I think its a pretty good shot! Ponte Vecchio in Florence. So pretty! Our second day it was raining like crazy, but we managed to climb to the top of the point and lookout on the whole city. Such a nice view! So different from being stuck in the city of Paris.

Canolis for the two 12 hour overnight train rides. Yum!Went to Pisa on Monday took cheesy tourist pictures,and ate gelato.

 Then we headed to Lucca, about 2 hours from Florence on the train, and rode bikes around the whole city. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. Lucca is a really small town encircled by a wall of grass all along the perimeter, which we rode atop of.   So nice to have fresh air and get some real exercise! I felt like I was back at home in this town for some odd reason.

 View from the top of a tower in Lucca. Little slice of Italian paradise.

Italy was so much fun, and I still have my Bordeaux pictures to post. I'll try and get on that tomorrow. Spring break starts on Friday, which I am so excited for! 16 days, Athens, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam and then back to Paris. Sounds like the most perfect 2 weeks I could ever imagine.
Until next time