Sunday, April 22, 2012

Moving to London-Revisited

Blogger has a new interface (I promise I'm going somewhere with this...).  On the 'back-end', I can now see a basic level of Google Analytics with each post.  It's a nifty way of seeing high-level information at a quick glance.
While posting about my Reims trip, I had a quick potter thru to see what old post had had the biggest number of views.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but a post I made in October, 2009 called Moving to London has received more views than just about anything else.  Though, British Teeth Explained is a close second. Hee..

So, I had a re-read of the Moving to London post, and I'm pleased that I think it still holds up.  My 20/20 hindsight on my 20/20 hindsight post hasn't changed.  And, even 2.5 years on, except for perhaps adding a few nit-picky things (paperwork to bring with you), I probably wouldn't add loads more.


Catching Up-Champagne Country Travels

Avenue de Champagne Epernay
Avenue de Champagne in Epernay
Moet et Chandon
Moet et Chandon Cave
I'm a bad, bad blogger.  It's been too long since I've posted anything.  Time to catch up!

We've spent the better part of the first two weeks of April travelling.  Barcelona for a quick weekend (because we can), and FINALLY...Reims & Epernay, France (aka 'Champagne Country'). Check one more off the bucket list.

Oh, so much fun.  Oh, so much champagne.  Oh, it was all sooooo good.

We took the Eurostar to Paris Tuesday night after the 4-day bank holiday. My first vacation since early November. Whew.  In to Paris for one night, and then out the next day for Reims.  We got into the Paris hotel rather late, but after dropping off our bags, headed out again to try to find a place for dinner.  Given the area of town we were in (Gare d'Est/Gare du Nord), I wasn't holding my breath, but we actually managed to find a place just around the corner from the hotel-Chez Papa-that was absolutely incredible.  I had a salad with lettuce, two kinds of cheese, sliced/fried potatoes, and a slice of parma ham.  Heaven.

We spent Wednesday morning walking around Paris for a bit.  Coffee & breakfast at Cotume Cafe for seriously some of the best java ever...and then a quick trip to Rue Cler near the Eiffel Tower.  Rue Cler is one of (I'm sure many...) foodie areas of town, and there's a place there called L'Epicerie Fine Rive Gauche that sells the most incredible tarragon flavored dijon mustard. They sell other incredible things, but we were on a mission for this mustard. :)

Afterwards, we took a stroll up to the St Germain de Pres part of town for lunch and then back to the hotel to get our things & go catch the train to Reims, which is 45 minutes east of Paris.

We stayed in Reims for 4 nights & used it as our base.  From there, we popped down to Epernay for a day (train journey is only 30 minutes).  Reims was much bigger than we expected, so we walked a lot.  For the amount (and type..) of food & booze we consumed on this trip, I should have packed on the pounds-but with all of the walking, I actually lost 1.5 pounds!  Best. holdiay. ever. :)

Over the course of our time in Reims, we had a good wander over most of the town, did cave tours of Tattinger & Pommery, had a tasting (no tour) at Charles de Cazanove, and consumed a fair few more bottles/glasses of champagne with our meals.  We wandered by Ruinart (my absolute  fave), but didn't (ahem.  couldn't...) go in.

Epernay was 1/10th the size of Reims (200k people v 20k people)-and more of what I expected the trip to be like.  Super quaint, picturesque village with all of the champagne houses just lined up one after another on a main strip.  Since we didn't have a car, Reims was challenging at times-and I'm sure we missed a good bit -but, for this reason, Epernay was perfect.

We did a tour at Moet & Chandon, and then also tasted (no tour) at Venoge..

The Dom himself

Foie Gras sushi

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that we had delish sushi twice in Reims at a place called Sushi Shop (a Lenny Kravitz chain-seriously!). They had a foie gras sushi on their menu (only in France) that was incredible.

Knowing we were going to spend a good amount on champers during the trip, we opted to hit the local Carrefour on our first day & buy supplies for our breakfasts.  Croissants, meats, cheese, OJ, yogurt, coffee and cream.  Simple, but delish.  We stocked up a few times while there and probably only spent $40 for both of us for breakfast for 4 days.  We were fortunate that the hotel we stayed in had a micro-fridge & kettle to boil water, so we probably had just as good of a breakfast as if we would have gone out in town (and it was nice to have a lazy breakfast in bed..).

Breakfast of Champions

Ah, it was such a great trip.  Work has been busy the past 5 months-and I was beginning to get a little burnt out.  It was nice to have 5 days not thinking about work-and just thinking about the moment.  Simon & I always travel quite well together (thank you, Jesus), so it was nice to be out & about with him as well.  All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better trip.