27 Nov 2011

Du Pain, Du Vin ...

Jugendstil villa in Bonn - Bad Godesberg. November 2011.

In spite of alarming daily news reports about the euro crisis and the fact we still don't have a government after 500+ days of negotiating, the majority of us seem to lead our daily lives with little noticeable change.

For me personally, these are hectic but stimulating times. The past fortnight I've spent 4 days in England (London and the Cotswolds), 4 in France (Lille, mainly) and 2 in Germany (Bonn - Bad Godesberg). Most of the travelling was done for work, but I've managed to squeeze in a couple of days for myself.

Spare wine racks, anyone?
In my scarce free time I've been studying for next week's exam (I'm taking 'Communicative French' evening classes twice a week) and of course I had to attend two of the annual wine festivals that are common in France and Belgium in late autumn.

Some big, others small, these wine fairs are the perfect occasion to discover wines from independent winemakers and many of the smaller vineyards all over France.

As a result, we're now in dire need of extra wine racks, but I understand that's a luxury problem.

And now for some trivia:

My top 5 observations of the past 2 weeks.

  1. Lille is truly a beautiful city, with striking architecture, a vibrant atmosphere and wonderful restaurants.
  2. The French Alsace region, famous for its white wines, makes surprisingly good pinot noirs that offer great value for money.
  3. Anybody who thinks English people are cold and reserved, hasn't met my friends. I had the chance to meet up with several of them when I was in the Cotswolds and even though we don't see each other often, the time we spent together was once again heartwarming.
  4. Once you've learnt a language, even if you don't use it for ages, it's ingrained in your brain. I had French in school between the ages of 8 and 17, then didn't use it for almost 20 years. Now that I'm taking classes again, I'm surprised how quickly it all comes back.
  5. Bad Godesberg's residential villa quarter is stunning. When Bonn was still the capital of West Germany and later the official seat of united Germany's government (until 1999), many of the foreign embassies were located in stately Jugendstil villas.
Residential villas in Bonn - Bad Godesberg. November 2011.

So, my dear friends, what have you been up to?
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  1. gorgeous villas and great trivia...i will second that about english folk - when i was visiting, my english friend was amazed at how i just spoke to people we passed by in the park, people he'd seen every day but never chatted with, yet i had great conversation with nearly everyone i met. sure perhaps a bit surprised at first, but warmed up quickly. reminded me of southern california in that way, haha. coming back home to oregon always makes me breathe easy because everyone chats with each other, says hi in the streets - very much a sense of community :)

  2. well, off course you are happy and stimulated when you're traveling so much ;) I wish my job was like that.
    These pics remind me of my own town. My city is filled with Hapsburg style architecture too, so it kinda looks like a wedding cake :)

  3. Nothing as exciting as yourself, that's for sure. I just love that big wedding cake of a house.

  4. You lead such a fascinating life. Keep enjoying and sharing with us.
    Be well, KC.

  5. Great to hear of your travels, K.C. I do agree about language skills - I did French and German (and some latin) and still remember a lot, though not so much latin!

    Good luck with that exam.

  6. Ecogrrl: that certainly helps: initiating the conversation yourself. :-)

    DEZZY: mmmm ... a wedding cake town. ;-)

    Delores: great, isn't it. I wish I'd had more time to explore Bad Godesberg properly and take a lot more pictures.

    Robyn: not nearly as exciting as a life by chocolate. :-)

    Rosemary: thanks! It's on Thursday night. Fingers crossed! :-)

    Rubye Jack: they're quite big, too. Very stately when you're looking up at them.

  7. Not nearly anything as cool as what you have been doing! Great pics!

    And thanks in part to Dora the Explorer...I know a little Spanish.lol

  8. Curse you Europeans and your convenient trains to great places! (Ha! kidding).

    What a great week you've had! I am dying to go to the Cotswolds. I've spent enormous amounts of time on Google maps exploring the area on Street View. I'm slightly obsessive that way. :)

    Wow, wine and chocolate fairs...I take it back. Curse you Europeans and your good food and wine!! :P

  9. Marsha: you had me google Dora the Explorer *blush*. I will now forever remember you as the woman who introduced me to Dora! ;-)

    L.G.: if it's any consolation, our trains often run late. =) I hope you'll love the Cotswolds as much as I do (if that's even possible). I'd hate it to be a repetition of the Codex Alera situation. ;-)

  10. I really want to go to Lille!

    And I hear you on the British. I've met some truly friendly, amazing people here - so far from reserved! Hope you had a good time in London. :)

  11. I love the picture of that German building. So beautiful.

    I finished a (first draft) novel, put up a Christmas tree, and kissed my kids.

  12. I have not been up to anything nearly so interesting as you!

  13. Talli: I certainly did. Who says work and fun have to be separated ... :-)

    Shelly: the words 'wedding cake' have fallen a few times here, and rightly so. :-) Wow, sounds like you've been up to a lot of good things. No tree here, yet. I'm usually a bit late. :-)

    Suze: I doubt that. :-) It's all in the mind, isn't it?


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