Search Chasing Jessie

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Headless Angels and their Kings

Nearly four weeks ago I arrived in France (after the plane merriment!) on a Saturday night to much jetlag.  On Monday morning I was picked up at 5:30 am to start my workday (11:30 PM Atlanta time!) to catch a train to a frozen food factory in the north of France.  In all of three hours I traversed more than half the length of France via the TGV (the high speed trains at 200 - 350 mph – faster speeds than some commercial air flights!!) to arrive in the Champagne region.  Champagne can ONLY come from this region – *everything* else is just "sparkling wine".  French people try to trick you all the time on this haughty detail, but don’t fall for their cunning ways.  Worked for three days in a microbiology lab with a bunch of frozen vegetables, salmonella, listeria, and heavily accented French people – kind of like talking to an aging onion farmer with bad teeth from southern Georgia.
One of many angels sans heads
The champagne region has a “Tourist Route” that takes you all over the region's countryside, passing by miles and miles of champagne grape vines, all the big champagne houses (Moet & Chandon (Dom), Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot (Cristal), etc…), and about a million small champagne houses.  The entire region is a cask to underground cellars of champagne barrels and bottles.  Seriously, nearly the entire region!  (I took the Taitinger tour a few years ago – the cellars go on forever!!).

Had the opportunity to go for a couple runs in the city and be a tourist, picture-snapping at every street corner!  So, pictures---

Reims Cathedral – As mentioned before, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  This one is not much different, except that it is in the middle of cleaning and the clean and dirty differences are disgustingly impressive.  HOWEVER, this cathedral has a few interesting details… Every single king of France was crowned in this Cathedral!  The exterior also has remnants of some interesting details … Check out what some soldiers of the French Revolution did to many angels surrounding the entry doors…  Beheaded and Behanded, kind of like Marie-Antoinette.  

There are also a few pix of a big angel that is missing a wing and an arm.  She is the “Famous Reims Angel” that has been written about in tons of French stories and tales.  I have no idea why she is so famous, but she been written about for hundreds of years now apparently.  Research, anyone?

The last picture is Basilica Saint-Quentin, which like most 900+ year old buildings, is under renovation and cleaning.  It is big, old, dirty and bland (reference Georgia onion farmer again).  The Basilica in Lyon (Fourviere – last set of pix) is seriously spectacular; this gives you an interesting comparison.  It only warranted one picture (from my hotel room), and could have been skipped if I hadn’t been bored one afternoon.
Headless angel

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tomatoes and baguettes

Cheers from Lyon!

I haven’t told anyone lately that I am a building floor lift nor that I sleep with dirty blankets, but I did tell someone that I lived in Paris in 1917.  Not exactly correct, but who’s counting + or – 80 years.  She looked at me like I was from another world.

I am starting to develop French habits here already, like going to Sunday outdoors farmer’s markets that are found every couple of blocks. Today I bought 4.5 pounds of peaches for 1.50 euros.  No, I have no idea how I am going to eat that many peaches, but they were irresistible!  Last weekend I bought more zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, tomatoes and onions than any one family can eat in one week, let alone just me …all for less than 5 euros.  I’ve made ratatouille three times this week—Mom, please send recipes!!!!

A very small smpling of what I see every morning…and what has me running every night - oh! 
Finally I am catching upa to the technology world, and have improved communication lines – yeah!  My computer and I have rented anAtlanta number – 404.496.5516 –  If I am online I can answer, and if not you can leave a message (I am EST +6 hours).  Call, have a chat in France, leave a message, all is brilliant!  I’ll tell you about my baguette obsession and attempt to try all the bakeries in Lyon.

Gros bises!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Grapes or oranges for breakfast?

My first weekend market haul... all for about $5!
 It is cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than a quart of orange juice.  Naturally yesterday morning when I went to buy breakfast at the supermarket and pick up a baguette at the bakery, I bought a bottle of wine.  Grapes and oranges – both fruits, after all.  Ok fine, so I bought a quart of orange juice too (for 1.69 euros) and a bottle of red (for 1.29 euros).  I drank the OJ in the morning and the wine at night, a nice compromise.

As with all languages, if you change one little letter, or add an accent were there isn’t one, your entire statement changes.  Today I told my building manager that, from my issued linens, my blanket was dirty, but instead said, “My blanket is salty; I’ll need a different one.”  I found a gym today and got some info/prices.  I told the sales guy that, for my occupation in France , I was an intern, but instead said “I am a building floor lift.”  How special.

French countryside at 200+ mph
France has a version of American Idol; they call it American Dreamz (yes, that’s a “z”).  Everyone sings American songs.  I can understand most of their english, but this guy just sang “Tainted Love” and I had no idea what language he was screaming.  The judges just told him he was absolutely fantastic.  There are some confused people over here.

My first 3 work days were spent via the TGV (200+ mph) train to the north of France in a microbiology lab.  Today I went on a 7 hour walk around the city, and my legs are telling me they’ve had enough.  Took lots of pictures though, and saw the most amazing Basilica ever.

Here is where I live!! (Click me!)
Takes you to exactly where I live - very cool!  Zoom out to see where Lyon is in France (SE, by the way!).

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Departure and Arrival (x 3)

Apparently I needed to pay back some of this good karma I’ve been getting lately.

Last Friday afternoon I showed up at the airport earlier than needed, not realizing that I only needed 1 hour pre-check-in for my first flight to JFK.  My flight boards on-time, everything is off to a good start.  I watch lots of people board, and this flight seems to have more kids on it than any other flight I have ever been on in my life.  Uh oh.  Well a 2.5 hour flight to New York turns out to be 4.25 hours of screaming kids instead, as we entered holding patterns and sat on the runway for-ev-er.  Oops, and now lookie there, my connecting flight to London has just departed.  I get rebooked to London (with another connecting to Lyon ), and am on the only other flight to Lyon that day, which is 7 hours later than my original.  (Did I mention my boss-to-be is picking me up at the airport at Lyon , and I have no way to get in touch with her to alert the change in plans???)

London flight (British Airways) delayed only 1.25 hours, we board and get pushed back from the gate.  We got pushed a whole 10 feet or so.  Then a few more feet.  After nearly 2 hours on the runway we shot up in the sky – yeah!  We landed in London , late obviously, so we had no gate to park our beast of an airplane.  By the way, this was the *biggest* airplane I have ever seen; it was a double-decker!!!!!  The wings were sooo long, two engines hanging off each wing, and way more tires/wheels than most semi-trailors.  After we landed I went upstairs on the double-decker beast; I had to know what they had going on.  The British and their double-decker buses and planes, I swear.  Turns out I wish I was up there… first-class beds!  (SEE attached couple of pix.)

While sitting on JFK runway for what seemed like forever, I on-demanded “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  Now that is a great movie; I can’t believe it has taken me so many years to finally see it.  For the first 2/3 of the movie, I struggled to figure out whether Butch or the Kid was Paul Newman or Robert Redford.  I changed my mind over and over, then finally put my mind where I know best – food!  I started picturing all those bottles and jars of salad dressing and organic salsa that I have purchased--- Newman’s Own!  Paul Newman has a sketch of himself on his product; his vanity helped me in my movie knowledge!  I liked Butch – Paul played him well. :)  And Sundance wasn’t so bad either… ;)

Well friends, 28 hours of delayed and rebooked flights later, and I am finally looking at a bed.  That’s all she wrote—