It’s ironic I write my latest edition of Bordeaux in 365 Bottles today. Because exactly eight years ago today, Tim, Emma, Angel and I started our journey to move to Italy.
It took us four days to move the animals by airplane, since there are strict temperature regulations and regulations for hours animals can actually spend in flight. It was incredibly stressful on all of us – poor Emma got diarrhea in the car about an hour after we left Phoenix to make the drive to Los Angeles, we learned that those luggage carts are not meant to stack kennels with wiggling fur babies in them on, Angel peed herself in her carrier on the flight and we dealt with delayed flights and airplanes with broken parts. It was also expensive.
People asked us why we would go through that stress and expense to move animals. Well, to us they are family and we weren’t going without them no matter what. And frankly, nothing makes us madder than people abandoning their pets or discarding them because life happened.
Eight years on, Angel is no longer with us. She passed away a year ago in May after bringing us 17 years of joy and love. We all still miss her every day, and I thank my lucky stars that Emma is still my faithful companion. Looking back, I can’t imagine this European adventure without either of them.
May marked six months since Emma had a major and very risky surgery to remove a 17 centimeter cancerous tumor from her liver. I was super nervous about her check-up, since the cancer was such a shock to begin with. But this pup is a trooper and I’m thrilled to report that the vet said everything is looking good.
Her blood work came back pretty much all okay, with just one level slightly abnormal. It wasn’t cause for any concern though and she’ll have a check-up again in another few months to monitor it. This was excellent news, especially since we believe the cancer was very aggressive and fast acting.
I was awarded a visa extension for another year
It seems I’m always doing paperwork and the latest batch started with gathering up everything I needed to present my case to stay in France for another year back in February. I had to mail a small telephone book sized stack in to request to present myself and my case, and that appointment finally happened in early May.
I was sweating bullets about what would happen, first because my first French long stay visa actually expired on April 22, second because there was a possibility Marine Le Pen would be elected the next French president and third, because I had trips to England, Seychelles and Nepal planned. I prayed I would be summoned to appear with my fat dossier conveniently between my hectic travel schedule. Low and behold, my prayers were heard and I made sure I was ready for my appointment with everything before I jetted off to Seychelles.
It never even occurred to me to ask a French friend to go with me. That is, until I showed up at the Prefecture looking like a deer in headlights. It was my first time at the actual Prefecture and it was like being in an airport, sans the signs directing you to the security check and gates.
When I made it to the right place and through my appointment in my terrible French, it felt like an even bigger win to walk out knowing I had been awarded another year long visa.
This also means I can finally start on the steps to change my visa status to an entrepreneur visa and register Bordeaux Bites & Bottles Food Tours as an official business in France! (If you’re not following us yet, please go follow us on Instagram.)
I trekked in Nepal
Perhaps my biggest high was accomplishing what I really had a lot of doubts I could do. I was nervous beyond belief and second guessed myself countless times about agreeing to a trip to Nepal that involved four days of trekking.
Up until about four days before I was actually supposed to leave on the trip to Nepal, I didn’t even have specific details about what I would be trekking. I really knew nothing more than it would be four days of what the Nepalis called “light” trekking and that I wouldn’t be trekking to Everest Base Camp.
So off I went to Nepal. I was prepared gear wise, but beyond that I was definitely not prepared physically. I’ve been struggling with plantar fasciitis for years and with that has come more extra pounds than I’m willing to admit.
But I learned that it was all about mind over matter. We covered close to 40 miles over 4 days and I did it. If anything, these kinds of adventures just push me to get back in to shape so I don’t have to stress myself out over wanting to see and experience the world.
My plantar fasciitis is worse than ever
Plantar fasciitis is a heel injury from the overstretching of the tissue and tendon that runs on the bottom of my foot. I’ve had a major flare up of it since March and just haven’t gotten it back under control. Trekking in Nepal did not help that situation, that’s for sure.
On the second day, we climbed some 7000 stone steps ascending up to 2900 meters. During the last hour, I could barely walk and my foot was in spasms with my toes curled up. My foot was essentially turned in to a claw and two more days of trekking after made it all a little worse for the wear. I couldn’t have gotten through it without far more tears had I not had an amazing guide from Royal Mountain Travel Nepal, who gave me many foot massages along the trail.
Next on my agenda of the heaps of paperwork I’m always completing to live as a legal resident of France is applying for an obtaining my carte vitale, which is basically the French health care and social security card.
Most Popular Post
I was seriously slacking in the writing department in March and April. My little bout of expat depression also was a culprit of writer’s block. I tried to rectify that by putting the pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and I actually wrote a whopping seven posts in May. Considering I only wrote seven posts combined in March and April, this was quite the accomplishment.
The most popular was all about things to do on Mahé, the main island where everyone traveling to Seychelles arrives. And there is a whole lot more to see and do than just the beach. If you missed it, take a look and see what we got up to there.
Most Popular Instagram Photo
It was a tight contest between quite a few of our Seychelles posts, which is no real surprise since Fregate Island Private in particular is the stuff of desktop screensavers. In all honestly, we’re still pinching ourselves over that dreamy trip.
In an attempt to shed at least a couple of pounds before my Nepal trip, I cut wine entirely out of my diet. That’s a bit tough to do when you: A. live in Bordeaux, and B. make a livelihood from writing about wine travel. I feel like I’m confessing at an AA meeting, but I’ve only had a few glasses of wine (no really, less than 10 total!) since the end of March.
I’m starting to really know quite a lot of people in Bordeaux. Which is good… until the day you’re a lazy bum at home working in pajamas and throw on whatever to take your dog out for a walk and run smack dab into some friends and potential new business partners. Before I knew it, a glass of Château Fonfroide was in my hand and I was being invited to the party. From that day, I vowed never to go out looking like a mess again.
A few days later I was looking much more presentable as I made my way to Château d’Agassac to experience lunch at their gourmet restaurant in their château. It’s interactive with blind wine pairings that you try and guess, plus the ambiance of dining in one of the oldest châteaux of the Médoc is unmatched.
I also attended a press and wine industry event at Château Kirwan. I actually got to visit two years ago when I came to Bordeaux on a Viking River Cruise, though we only dined there and didn’t tour the château. Now Château Kirwan, a third growth Grand Cru Classé, has all new wine tours and has done stunning upgrades to their cellar. We even had a 1998 vintage, which was the year I graduated high school, with lunch. I also tried their 2010 vintage at Le Week-end Grands Crus and it was spectacular. My friend Aurélie and I both agreed that it was well balanced, with pops of fruit and a long finish.
One of the most interesting wine experiences I had was a private wine tasting cruise on the Bay of Arcachon with EnVin: Personal Wine Shopper. We dropped anchor right in front of Dune du Pilat, one of my favorite places in France, and Aurélie did a wine tasting of all the Bordeaux wines from white to Sauternes. On the way, we were delivered the freshest oysters right out of the bay to have with the white wine. You can gather a group of up to 10 friends to charter the boat and do the private wine tasting cruise, which only comes out to about €70 per person. I need to expand my social circle so we can do this experience again!
I ended my month at Le Week-end des Grands Crus, an annual event in Bordeaux where the public can taste from over 100 châteaux. I only worked my way through a quarter of them, trying vintages ranging from 2003 – 2014 from 25 different châteaux. It’s when you try so many like this, that you can really tell the difference not only from the Left and Right Banks, but also from château to château.
Bottle Count: 266
Coming Up in June 2017
Things are definitely not slowing down, though I am staying put in France for the entire month of June. It’s going to be all about festivals, events, anniversaries and wine all around Bordeaux.
I’ve got just a few days to recover and catch up on work from basically being offline for two weeks while I was in Nepal, then I’m off to Margaux to stay at a windmill set among the vines of some of the world’s most famous Grand Cru Classé châteaux. I’ll also be visiting several Margaux châteaux for tastings.
On June 11, I’m taking part in an InstaMeet in Saint-Émilion. We’ve got a full day of climbing the towers, tasting the sparkling wine and visiting the cellars of the Cloître des Cordeliers, a tasting at Château Ambe Tour Pourret and more. Be sure to follow me, igersgironde and mysaintemilion on Instagram! I’m very excited to take part as my first official event in a long-term partnership to promote Saint-Émilion tourism.
I also celebrate moving to Bordeaux one year ago on June 17. I feel like there should be a little something special to mark the occasion, but I’m not sure what. Any ideas for me?
VinExpo, the world’s largest wine trade event, takes place in Bordeaux from June 18 – 21 and I’ll be there. I’m also joining the Union of Grands Crus, who invited me to En Primeur and the Week-end des Grands Crus Bordeaux for a special tasting event during VinExpo.
I never like to spill the beans until the ink is dry, just in case it doesn’t actually happen. But there may be one other little trip within my region, Nouvelle Aquitaine, to wrap up my month.