Sunday, June 29, 2008

Julia's Baby Shower and Baby Isabelle

Although there is no baby shower tradition in Germany, Kathrin, Katja, and I still wanted to have an American baby shower tradition for Julia. Here she was about 8 months pregnant looking radian. We also made a diaper cake for her. It was our first diaper... it was quite easy and fun to make it.

Baby Isabelle was born about 2 weeks after the baby shower on June 18 midnight. She looks so much like the farther - Martin. So cute.

Southwest France VII - Chateaux Bellevue, and Wine Tours

Chateaux Bellevue

Don't know what your first thought is looking at picture above? I was like... Oh my god! I want to stay there!! I was so glad that Josh said 'YES, I'll take my baby to stay in a castle.' If you are impressed by the picture, you would fall in love with it when you are there in person. The castle's owner is a German artist, Petra. She has many of her paintings hanging in every room. Petra spent quite some time telling us how she felt in love with the castle and the processes of renovating it. I could tell that she put a lot of effort in it,... even with the light fixtures. There are chandeliers in every room including 'bathrooms'. Are you as impressed as I was? Petra was also very excited to have us because we were her first paying guests.

Next day (day seven), Petra introduced us to her friend Les who is an wine expert from South Africa and owns a hotel in downtown Blaye. He gives tours and wine classes. Petra asked him to take 5 of us (her friends Peter and his wife, us, and herself... we were kind of tagging along.) to a winery for a tour and lunch.

Les showed and explained different types of grapes, regulations in the vineyard and blending , vat's processing, and influences of toasting on oak barrels. Then, the best part of the tour...TASTING WINE and LUNCH.
We sat in the front yard of owner's house and had a five course delicious lunch with different glasses of good wine. Although it was just a lunch, the owner didn't take it lightly at all. Wine and lunch were paired perfectly. We spent 4 hours drinking, eating, chatting and enjoying the wonderful sunny afternoon. French people really know what life is all about. We were so full afterwards... We had a break back in the Chateaux Belleuve, then drove to Blaye and Bourg to explore some more of the right bend of the Gironde river. Then, we got some food, drove back to the castle to enjoy sunset, food, and beautiful scenery (vineyard over the fence, river, then the city of Bordeaux).

Day eight, we planned on going to Bassin D'rcachon to have an oyster feast by the coast. Just when we were leaving, Petra told us that Les is taking some Australian tourist to another winery and wonder if we would like to join. Josh and I were like...hmm... stressful driving or free wine tour? Easy choice! Free wine!! So, we met up with four Australians and two Americans at Les' hotel. While we were waiting everyone to get ready, we got some big oysters from the market for the dinner later. How perfect! Free wine tour and Oyster feast...

We followed Les' car for an half hour arriving at the Chateaux La Rose Belleuve. Here is a picture of us siting in the shade listening to Les explaining each bottle of wine until we were all starving. We went to a local restaurant to have lunch (we order a vampire fish that tasted like pork...interesting..)then went back to the winery and hung out with the owners until late in the afternoon. This was such a different and friendly experience in Bordeaux compared to the more commercialized California types. This was especially true of the right bend of the river, not as famous as the left bend but the wine is just as good and a lot cheaper! Very cost effective!! Love it!!!

Our last night in Southwest France, Petra invited Les' guests and her friends to party at the Chateaux Bellevue. It was so wonderful. At the end, we all felt like we made many friends.

This trip was by far our best vacation ever. Good food, wine, people, no computer, no internet, no work, no cooking and no cleaning just two of us for nine was a real HONEYMOON.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Southwest France VI - Bordeaux

After we checked in to our home for next 3 nights, we headed to Bordeaux downtown. It was about 40-50 minute drive on a holiday-Thursday. Downtown was quiet and peaceful. There were not many tourists either. Bordeaux is such a beautiful city but we only spent about 3 hours walking around the city. We kept thinking about going back to our beautiful fairy tale castle. Besides, after we have seen so many big cities, we were itching for some 'country' time. So, we picked up cheese, a baguette, Bordeaux wine, and enjoyed incredible sunset in the back of the castle.