Bonne Année! What a month and a year to look back on as I wrap it all up several days already in to 2017 in this final edition of Bordeaux in 365 Bottles for 2016.
I slowed things down visiting just eight countries total in 2016, though I made three different trips to the US visiting Montana, Miami and Pittsburgh. I added three new countries, finally checked completing my open water dive certification off my bucket list, decided to move to France and then actually did it. I was profiled in Business Insider and spoke at TBEX Philippines about professionally reviewing hotels. My 16 year old cat passed away devastating me and Emma battled liver cancer that we were completely shocked to learn she even had. And Tim and I worked at figuring out a long distance relationship with an 8-hour time difference on different continents.
Whew! No wonder I spent the holidays completely exhausted and sleeping a little more than usual.
Somewhere and somehow in between all of the hectic mess that was 2016, for the first time in years I found a balance between work and play. For years, I’ve thrown myself in to work – first, when I was at the university, then the university and this blog, then this blog. Making money to continue leading the lifestyle I was used to certainly was a motivator, but I didn’t realize just how much the lack of good friendships pushed me in to unhealthy work habits.
Here in Bordeaux I have a few good friends that I socialize with regularly and it’s been just what the doctor ordered. Best of all, none of them have anything to do with blogging. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to get sucked in to conversations that can quickly turn depressing about how to make money, what techniques to use to get clients to pay up on long overdue invoices and if you should just throw in the towel and go back to some kind of a more traditional job.
I love my blogging friends dearly, but like with any job sometimes you just need a little work-life separation.
One of the things I really wanted to do during my time living in Bordeaux was to put together a travel guide. I decided to put together a free edition as a Bordeaux travel resource page here on Luxe Adventure Traveler to pull together all my favorite places, places I’ve written about and some practical information for traveling to and in Bordeaux.
It’s certainly not finished, but building the page filled up my editorial calendar with all the things I realized I still need to write. And it made me make a list of things I’d like to check out so I can decide if I want to recommend them to you. I’d love to know what you think of the resource page and what things you’d like to see added!
I’m also starting on a Bordeaux Travel Guide that will be more in-depth and that I’ll be selling as an eBook once it’s finished.
Our Booking.com affiliate is on fire
I have to thank each of you for using our Booking.com partner website to book your hotels!
It was a huge project to add all of our Booking hotel links to over 700 individual posts on Luxe Adventure Traveler, but it was definitely worth the time investment. We’ve got a nice monthly passive income revenue stream coming in now, which helps me relax a little more when I’m on a trip like when I spent three weeks traveling in the Philippines essentially without internet.
If you’re not already, you can help support this site and us continuing to bring you great travel content by bookmarking and using our Booking.com, Viator and Amazon partner sites. It doesn’t cost you anything and we earn a teensy-weensy commission when you book hotel, tours or shop for the things you’re already doing.
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I’m also working on a new travel resources page where you’ll be able to find every hotel we’ve personally stayed at and recommend all around the world. Now, if only there were about 24 more hours in a day and I had a clone…
I’d considered flying to Seoul to spend either Christmas or New Year’s with Tim. But he didn’t have much time off work and he’s been working insane hours. It wasn’t looking like I’d even get to see him much, so it just wasn’t worth the cost of the plane ticket.
But it was the first time in over a decade that I was completely alone for the holidays. A good friend invited me to spend Christmas Eve, which is the big celebration here in France, with her and her French family. We had a White Elephant Christmas exchange and more than a few gifts were stolen, but I was nearly last to go and ended up with a really awesome set of vinegars from Maille, a famous French mustard company here in France.
I met up with friends between the holidays for afternoon tea, Christmas concerts and shopping. And I had a Christmas market practically on my doorstep.
I also attended a New Year’s Eve party, rang in 2017 with friends and too much champagne, stayed out until 3:30am and needed three days to recover from it.
Even though I had fun and enjoyed spending the holidays in Bordeaux, I still missed Tim immensely and being apart made me sad. We tried to keep some of our traditions, even from 6,000 miles apart. We had a movie date, queued up National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to watch in unison, and both had pizza and wine like we would have done had we been together.
The great flea debacle
Emma just turned 12 at the end of November. Before we moved to France, we never even treated either her or our cat for fleas and neither of them ever had them. We heard that fleas were a problem, especially since last winter had been quite warm. Emma was being treated monthly for fleas until she got sick with cancer and was on morphine and other stuff.
So what do you know but she somehow got fleas. I’m a little OCD with keeping my apartment clean and I’d been inspecting her regularly as her half shaved body grew back the hair, so I think I caught them right away.
But man, fleas are a pain in the ass! The vet had me start Emma back on her flea treatment and also gave her an oral medication she said would kill them within a few hours. She wasn’t kidding.
The fleas were coming out of Emma’s fur like they were frigging jumping from burning building. And did you know fleas are the best jumpers of all known animal species? They can jump up to 100 times their height, which is about 7-inches in the air. I had my own damn flea circus going on as I tried to collect them up in to a ziplock bag where I could drown them in soapy water.
I had to flea bomb and haul everything to the laundromat – my bedding, Emma’s bedding, her toys – since I don’t have a dryer so I could wash and dry it all on high heat to kill any potential flea eggs. And vacuuming twice daily, followed by a good mopping is essential for about 14 days after first treating your home.
Knock on wood, I haven’t seen any further evidence of fleas or flea dirt on Emma, probably thanks to my monkey-esque picking them off her every couple hours and excessive grooming with a flea comb.
I get to repeat it all every two weeks for three months just to be sure you get all of them. So let this be a public service announcement to you pet owners out there. Be sure to treat your fur kids for fleas (I like Frontline because it’s effective and extremely easy to apply) or you could end up like me.
And Santa, next year coal would definitely suffice should I apparently be on your naughty list.
Most Popular Post
Apparently y’all were in to Remi’s lightening-y mushrooms just as much as I was, because my evening of Ciné Gourmand at La Cité du Vin was the most popular post I wrote in December. It was a very fun evening watching one of my favorite Disney movies, hopefully improving my French through osmosis and eating a very creative menu paired with delicious Bordeaux wines. I can’t wait to see what movies they have coming up and don’t forget to check it out if you visit on the first Wednesday of the month.
Most Popular Instagram Photo
Tim got me a new camera lens for Christmas and I’ve spent many nights photographing Bordeaux’s grand buildings by night. Not only was this Instagram shot my most popular in December, I’m fairly certain it’s my most popular ever so far.
I got an early Christmas present: a Rokinon fisheye lens. I’ve been out the last few nights having a lot of fun photographing Bordeaux! Place de la Bourse is my favorite spot in all of Bordeaux, so naturally I’ve shot no less than 200 photos of it at varying times of the day with my new lens. What do you think?
What I’m Drinking This Month
December can basically be summed up by way too much Champagne, which took me three days to recover from…
I think I discovered the most inexpensive glass of wine in town. I met a friend at a restaurant, Le Chien de Pavlov, which has been on my radar to try for a while. For just €2 with an entree, you could select red or white and that day’s selection happened to be a 2004 Château Vernay Bonfort Montagne-Saint-Émilion.
Of course, I attended the aforementioned Ciné Gourmand where a Ratatouille inspired menu with paired with Bordeaux wines from Chateau Le Camplat from Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, Chateau La Fleur Peyrabon 2009 and 2010 from Paulliac and Chateau Tour de Yon 2012 Grand Cru from Saint-Émilion.
I was also invited to discover Château Prieure Marquet and shared a bottle of 2014 Château Prieure Marquet Bordeaux over dinner with the owners and caretakers. It’s such a gorgeous place less than 40 minutes drive outside the city and I can’t wait to see how their wines come along as the vineyards are revitalized.
My month was so busy I’d forgotten that I attended Bordeaux Tasting, an annual event each December where 300 wine producers from Bordeaux and around France exhibit and offer attendees tastings. The best part of this event is that you can taste many of the Grand Cru Classés in the very place the infamous 1855 classification took place for a minimal entry fee. I tried:
- 2010 Château Cos Labory Saint-Estèphe Grand Cru Classé
- 2003 Château de Rayne Vigneau Sauternes 1er Cru Classé
- 2011 Château La Tour Blanche Saunternes Premier Cru Classé
- 2012 Château Pedesclaux Paulliac Grand Cru Classé
- 2014 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc
- 2009 Château Romanin Les Baux-de-Provence La Chapelle de Romanin
- 2012 Château Lascombes Chevalier de Lascombes Margaux
- 2013 Château Labégorce Margaux
- 2009 Château La Tour Carnet Grand Cru Classé
I was invited to try La Brasserie Bordelaise, a fantastic restaurant on one of the most tourist trodden streets in Bordeaux that I would normally skip over. My beef tenderloin was melt-in-your-mouth tender and paired deliciously with a bottle of 2009 Château Citran Moulins de Citran Haut-Medoc.
Unfortunately, I lost track of what we were drinking on Christmas Eve with dinner after the 2008 Lanson Champagne Brut Vintage Gold Label. But there was red wine and lots of it.
My friends popped open a 2013 Pierre Morey Bourgogne Chardonnay, which I really liked, as we ate Brillat-Savarin (a new favorite cheese I’ve recently discovered) and prepped for New Year’s Eve by making a foie gras terrine and chopping veggies.
And I finished off the year with I-don’t-even-know-how-many bottles of inexpensive Champagne and Crémant de Bordeaux, before collapsing and sharing a bottle of Veuve Clicquot with special friends to toast in the New Year.
Bottle Count: 86
Coming Up in January 2017
January is already shaping up to be a busy month! I’m off to Provence for some winter truffle hunting on a short trip with Provence Guide next week.
That had been all I had planned for this month aside from further research and exploration in Bordeaux. Until I received two invitations to haute couture shows during Paris Fashion Week at the end of the month. PARIS FASHION WEEK y’all! Pretty much my Sex and the City dream come to real life.
I’m still sorting if I can fit it in to my schedule, and more importantly, what I’ll wear to a couture show. The what to wear part is giving me some serious anxiety. So stay tuned! I just may show up in Paris and at some fashion shows on my Instagram Story.