Friday, September 25, 2015

France Trip Part 2 - Burgundy Region

Ok, I need to keep posting about this trip before I start forgetting details!  Although to be honest, posting about it 2 months after the fact does help the memories come streaming back pretty readily and it's like reliving the whole trip again!  So we left off with K and I catching the train to Dijon, France, home of mustard (and yes, we did buy some while we were there!)  The train ride itself was an adventure because apparently there were 2 trains leaving from Lyon heading to Paris at the exact same time.  One train was a direct trip to the city of lights (not the train we wanted), while the other made stops along the way, one of which was in Dijon (the train we wanted, but not the train we got on...).  So yea, we were directed to the wrong train in Lyon and made the trip over half way to Paris before we realized that according to the schedule we should have gotten off in Dijon 20 minutes before.  Luckily K speaks French and was able to explain our situation when we arrived at the Paris train station and they put us back on another train headed to Dijon.  Whoops!
So we finally made it to Dijon, got a taxi to our airbnb apartment and then headed back out for a quick dinner before all of the restaurants closed (since it was a Sunday night, our options were limited anyway).  I was feeling kind of cruddy at this point, and it had been a long day of travel, so we went to bed early.  The following day we explored the city of Dijon, and it was delightful!
Our first stop in Dijon was the post office (we accidentally forgot to leave the key for our Lyon apartment in said apartment and needed to mail it back), which was an adventure itself as the post office was definitely off the beaten path (and of course closed for lunch when we got there).  So we spent some time in a nearby garden until it reopened and got that taken care of.  On our way back into town we stopped off at Maille, a famous Dijon mustard shop and stocked up on the local specialty!

In Dijon there exists this self-guided tour system called the Owl Trail.  There are these adorable little owl-adorned brass triangles inlaid in the sidewalks throughout the city and a printed tour guide that is available for sale a the tourist center that points out all of the notable landmarks along the Owl Trail.  So K and I figured the guide was worth the small investment and we spent most of the rest of our day following the trail throughout the entire city, stopping to eat or shop when the whim hit us.  After a somewhat early dinner we met up with an official tour guide for a guided architectural night tour!

Amazingly, most of the stops were different than those we saw on our self-guided Owl Trail tour and the back stories on the city gave us some wonderful insights!  After the tour we headed back to our apartment and packed our things up as we were headed out again the following day.

The following day (Tuesday) was our vineyard and Burgundy exploration day!  We caught the train back to the bus station and rented a car so we could meander our way through wine country.  Our first stop was the most picturesque little cottage/winemaker nestled into a hillside of vineyards, but unfortunately they only accept people who have made reservations with them in advance (the downside to our random exploration approach).  So we pulled up another vineyard and found ourselves in a mansion with the most incredible roof (a hallmark of the Burgundy area)!  There we tasted about 6 wines (I naturally fell in love with a $60 bottle, but couldn't convince myself to buy it) and explored the wine cellar before we hit the road again for Beaune.

Beaune is a quaint little town that was recommended to us by a number of our friends in Lyon.  It's notable features are once again the amazing colored roof designs that are common in the area.  There were also a number of vineyards, wine shops, restaurants, and retail shops lining the very narrow streets (parallel parking was quite a feat!).  The first picture above from Beaune is definitely nerdy of us... Se-boar-a.  Get it?  Yeah, Nerdy....

From Beaune we drove for a little while to the town of Auxerre, a beautiful, hilly city along a river with some beautiful churches.  We chose to just meander the streets here down to the river and enjoy the view.  Clouds were rolling in, but we never actually got rained on, they just gave the city this quiet, moody atmosphere.  After we left Auxerre we drove to the town of Vernon and our airbnb rental for the night.  Vernon is just west of Paris, which is where my next blog post will pick up.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What a Weekend!!

We interrupt this extremely delayed overview of the past 2 months to bring you this breaking news: S and I are engaged!!!!  He asked me to marry him on Saturday and OF COURSE I said yes!  We've been smiling ear to ear all weekend since then.  Get ready for a Houston wedding in 2016!
And he did an amazing job planning out the whole evening too.  I was so surprised - oblivious even.  I did not see it coming!  In fact, the way he worked it out, I almost planned it all myself without even knowing.  That is some skill, my friends.  Here's our engagement story for those of you who are curious:

I mentioned to S last week that there were a couple of exhibits coming to the Houston art museum in the next year that I wanted to see and he commented on how we also hadn't been to the Menil art museum in a while.  We used to go all the time back when I lived in town and we'd picnic on the lawn next to the giant red jack sculpture and then walk through the museum.  It was our thing.  So I agreed and said we should go this weekend and since it was still Houston Restaurant Weeks we could also go eat at Bistro Menil afterwards.  Reservations were made.

So on Saturday evening we drove to the Menil and walked through the exhibits.  S was cool as a cucumber, no visible nerves or anything so I never suspected a thing.  We also walked down to the Rothko chapel and this new exhibit that was totally amazing called the Infinity Machine.  After we finished with the art exhibits, he commented on how we should take some pictures at the big red jack sculpture (it had moved during construction of the restaurant and this was the first time we'd been back that the jack was back on display).  So I climbed up onto the jack (which is totally allowed - we weren't breaking any rules) and he took a few pictures of me with his phone.  Then he said he wanted to use my phone to take some more pictures.  It was on the ground in my purse and there was no way I was climbing down in my short dress to get it and then climbing back up onto the sculpture again, so I asked if he could get it from my purse himself.  He knelt down to get it from my purse, but when I looked down to get the phone, he was holding up a diamond ring instead!  I don't think he even asked the question, I just started babbling "yes" and tearing up...
He had also recruited our friends N and H to hide in the bushes paparazzi style and capture pictures of the whole thing!  He did such a good job planning this all out!!
After we hugged, kissed, smiled ear-to-ear, and posed for a few pictures in front of the jack, we had our dinner at Bistro Menil.  And after dinner we called my parents to share the good news.  Actually, I texted my mom a picture of my newly adorned left hand and she immediately called me back to confirm that it was indeed my hand.  We called his parents on our way home.  Needless to say, both of our families are thrilled!
And speaking of my new jewelry, S did an AMAZING job picking out the ring.  I love it so much.  Everyone who sees it says that it's "so me".  I'm feeling so lucky right now!