Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Back from my Trip

Well, I'm back from my trip and returned to work after a 3 week break. It feels like the first day of school.

I'm really excited about a friend of ours who auditioned for Am Idol in Memphis and got through to the next round.

Watch as Sean Michel performs Johnny Cash and makes it to the next round.

Here is his myspace page:

Monday, January 15, 2007

Still on Vacation

Nothing really all that earth shattering to report. We are having a lot of fun with our friends wondering why we ever stopped being missionaries in the first place - NOT really.

Hmmm that could be misinterpreted so that people would think that we've become alcohol drinking heathens that are full of piss and vinegar for our old tee-totaling psedo-sexist employer. Oh wait, we've always been that way.

I'll move on to putting in a list of things we've done since my last post - its been cool and there has been much alcohol imbibed (but not much drunkeness :)

1) Arles - we'd never been to this city of Roman vestiges and Van Gogh's inspiration. We walked right by the site where he painted Starry Starry Night only to realize later that that little emblem in the sidewalk wasn't a dude with a backpack but a painter - duh. This was a very nice and very French town. We ate Confit de Canard, an old favorite.

2) Football (the american kind) - We spent time watching the playoffs with our friends. Since we left Europe, some genius has come out with the North American Sports Network. This would have been awesome when we lived here and is a perk we can enjoy with them since we are not in a frantic hurry to have the vacation of a lifetime. I woke up at 2:30am with a huge Buckeye fan to see them get embarrassed - went back to bed at halftime.

3) Cassis - little French costal town where we went for lunch. Watched the sun set in the Med. ==Pic== We ate whole wheat crepes and salad with bowls of French cidre to drink. We also went to a movie in Marseille called Hors de Prix. It was a surprisingly light hearted French comedy, and we both loved it.

4) Carcassonne and Le Pays des Cathars - I'd been to Carcassonne before. It is a beautifully restored medevial town in the south of France. L and M hadn't been, and we spent the night there inside the city. No tourists but us and it felt like we had the whole city to ourselves. The swankiest hotel inside the wall actually offered me a room for 300 euros off, but it was still too expensive. We didn't have to go far to find another option. I ate Cassoulet with duck and sausage and had probably my 3rd serving of foie gras since the trip began. ==Goofy Pic for LB==

4a) The Pays des Cathars is a region in the south near the Spanish border that I really didn't know anything about before this trip. The Cathars were a catholic splinter sect that existed for somewhere between 200-300 years in the south. They left probably a dozen fortresses around that you can visit to this day. This region of France was not known to me as a wine region, but oh boy is it ever. The drive was truly an exquisite one in the foothills of the Pyrenees which are almost covered with vineyards. I wish I could come back to hike across this area sometime in the summer. We had steak-frites in a small town and then feu de bois pizza in Narbonne on the way back to Marseille.

there's more, but I'm bored with this post.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

First Time in Marseille

Being the experienced European types that we are, we've had many experiences with a good friend of ours named "Jet-Lag." Our system for ourselves and everyone who came to visit us while we lived in France was basically to suffer through the first day and then sleep a normal 8 hours from whenever you could last until at night (usually just after dinner at 8pm) until a reasonable hour the next morning - say 8am.

If you actually get 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep your first night in Europe and wake up when it is morning local time, you will have defeated "Jet-Lag" completely.

What usually happens however is that you sleep from 8 till about 11:30 and then from about 12:30 (after you take something) till 3am and then from somewhere between 5 and 7 until the maid comes and knocks on your door and tells you its time to checkout . . .

We were always happy to interrupt our guests before the maid in order to avoid the unpleasantness of a possible 6 hour nap from 8am till 2pm that would effectively screw you for your entire 8 day trip to Europe.

On our most recent 14 day trip (which we are on while I am typing this message), our friends picked us up from the airport at around 1pm in the afternoon. We did great, renting a car and making it through dinner at their home. We managed to last until about 10:30pm when the attempt at sleep began. I made it from about 10:30 to 1am and then fell back to sleep around 4. From this point, earplugs, black out the sun shutters in our room, and not having any type of clock to look at combined to screw us over to the tune of letting us sleep till about 2pm. Even our friend's 1 and 3 year old didn't wake us up.

We made the best of it by getting out and about and visiting some of the more prominent sites in Marseille - Notre Dame de la Garde and Le Vieux Port. The photo above is me in front of a view of Marseille from the hill on which ND d.l. Garde sits.

The day was short and it culminated in us finding the grocery store, where we endulged by buying all the old favorites we enjoyed while we lived in France. Our grocery list might surprise you as it isn't filled with pain au chocolate and baguettes but we've got our reasons:
1) Straight for the Foie Gras de Canard
2) That curled up hard French salami (very salty good with cream cheese)
3) Pain Complet (wheat bread is good for you)
4) Une bouteille de Chateauneuf de Pape (because we are in the Rhone wine region)
5) Pate en Croute (not really as nice as you're thinking, this is something only a poor missionary in France would attempt, but we love it)
6) Lots of yogurty desserts - Mmmmmm
7) Boursin (kinda like cream cheese with garlic and chives blended right in)
8) Little toasties like melba toast except intended for adults (for the foie gras and boirsin after the bread goes stale)

After our shopping trip we returned home and feasted on the random France comfort food we had acquired, and it was time to try and sleep.

I think I was awake for more than 5 1/2 hours before I finally gave up and decided to wake up with the houshold - grrrr.

I'll report more on our trip later, but the next day went really well and involved passing out in front of the TV at like 10:30 when I finally conqured "Jet-Lag" and got on schedule.

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