Sunday, August 02, 2015

Ghana Update #11 - France

August 1, 2015
Well, the end of summer has come up rather quick for me and i am trying to get this out before i leave the states.....what a summer it has been, and thanks to all of you i have connected with, one way or another....i have seen many people and reconnected with family and friends.....but now it is time to head back to Ghana for my second year of teaching....once again i will be teaching 6th graders and 8th graders, middle school science.....plus doing all of the other things i am involved with...it should be a good year....

i did feel that i needed to start my year off with a clean blogging slate, so i am getting out my trip through france from the beginning of my summer...i did this trip with my friend sandy and we went on this trip to visit our friends rick, thalia and their adorable dog sadie, in the drome valley of france....we started off together with a pick-up in paris, hit chablis, dijon, cassis, st. etienne, and ended in die (said dee) - located in the drome valley...then we parted ways and i spent mid-summer in lyon.....it was a terrific trip of friends, fun and food in beautiful france...on with the show.....


this was one of our very first stops outside of paris.....here we have made it to a winery in chablis....and did some tasting of chablis...unlike wine tasting in the states, you are allowed to try every bottle of wine they produce....so we had seven (?) different types of chablis alone...i think....there was a really nice woman running the tasting part of the business...but she did not understand english...luckily sandy is at a 6th grade level in french....as opposed to my 2-year old level....ha....
 

our next stop was a night's stay in dijon....what a quaint town dijon is....yes, its the place where the mustard is made as well...we did some tasting and buying of that....yummy....this was the main square in the center of the medieval part of town....cute, cute, cute....
 

just another street in the medieval section we wandered down the night we were in town....i love the architecture of the small towns in france....with the cobbled stone streets and bike paths :)
 

as we drove through the back roads of france, we came across many, many vineyards and grapes growing....so green and luscious....just had to take a picture.....
 

this is sandy and i tasting cassis....which is used to make a liquor....it can be added to white wine or champange....little did i know just how many flavors of liquor you could get....who knows which one we are trying here...but we started giving them holiday names..like halloween & christmas....the sales woman loved it.....as we hung out with her, and another couple....at one point the conversation was in english, french and spanish....i think everyone got their meaning across....cheers!!!!!!
 

just another one of the many landscape shots i was taking as we drove along the smaller, back roads of france to get to the drome valley....we had some beautiful driving weather and enjoyed our road trip through the small (at times desterted) towns in france....
 

and then we arrived in the drome valley....and i loved this old, stone building in the town where my friends live....this area is known for sheep, the glandasse mountains, clariette wine and camping....its a beautiful place for my friends rick and thalia and sadie to call home :) and a great place to visit....


here is rick and sandy with some of the beautiful mountains of the glandasse behind them....it really is a terrific spot in the world for vacation.....
 

here are rick and thalia in their backyard, where we had tasty meals, while watching the sun go down through the mountains.....
 

while visiting the drome valley, we took a bike ride to a vineyard and through the back roads of the area.....simply stunning....and yes, if you look really closely at the bike, you will see it is electric, to be able to get up those steep hills of the region.....you always still have to pedal, but it is like there is someone pushing just a little bit behind you when you get to a hard hill....it was terrific....
 

here is another landscape shot from the bike ride....it really is a beautiful place...between the green and mountains and farms and sky....incredible....
 

while we were riding, sandy spotted a lavender field...so we went back the next day to get a shot of it...here is the field, with a cool tree in it and the mountains in the back....blue, blue skies were following us everywhere we went...it was lovely....
 

we also visited a butterfly house that was incredible in this little valley....the shot above is actually a moth, not a butterfly and it is about 12 inches(30 cm) in diameter (wing tip to wing tip)....these moths were HUGE....and freaked sandy out a bit...i really liked them, but am not sure what it would have been like if they had been flying around....maybe a bit freaky....but there were tons of beautiful butterflies in this butterfly house....so it was a wonderful, unexpected addition to our already lovely day.....


as i stated above, the drome valley is known for its sheep....and once a year, they host the "running of the sheep"...kind of like the running of the bulls in pamplona, but a lot less dangerous and possibly more smelly....and lucky us - it happened the weekend we were in town.....this is this year's poster about the running of the sheep...more on that event below....as it was amazing!!!!!
 

of course on saturdays in die, there is a morning market....of course....and another thing die is known for nougat...so at the market, we came across this...yummy...i have actually posted this picture for my mom, because she loves this stuff....
 

and then we had the prep for the running of the sheep....first off we saw a parade of tractors....old tractors of course....the guys driving the tractors were as old as the tractors....it was a perfect way to start all of the fun of the "running of the sheep" through the town of die....
 

and then we had the running of the sheep....and we are talking hundreds of sheep....they run around the town twice....and we had a prime spot for the whole thing...as you can see rick and sadie were hangin' with us for the running....we were in one of the bars along the route, but more importantly, THE bar that gave the sheperds who were herding the sheep, beer.....they loved coming by the place we were in....
 

and....they just kept coming....i do have to say that they left a bunch of sheep poop in their wake, and they smelled quite strong....but what a day of running sheep....so many and so close....
 

the second time they came around, i had to take a closer look....almost had one or two of them step on my toes, that's how close i was to the sheep as they ran....me, surrounded by dutch and german tourists....it was a blast and the sheep were really cool close up....even had some goats thrown into the mix.....

here is a close-up shot of some of the sheep....cute, aren't they???? and i love the brands they use in france....colours and letters, so they don't get mixed up and go to the wrong sheep farm after the run around town....actually, after they run around town, they they run up a mountainside....you can join them....but it was 6pm when this all started....so at that point we decided instead of running up the mountain with them, to have a beer and celebrate their run.....
 

another close-up shot of the sheep...some of them had stylish hair cuts and amazing horns on the male sheep were spotted as well...but i did not get good shots of those sheeps....still, i hope you can see how much i loved this and just how many sheep ran through die on this lovely afternoon....
 
video

i have no idea if this movie of the running of the sheep in front of me will work....but i am trying something new with this blog....let me know if you get it to work....or not....and i will determine if the movie stays or goes.....need to give credit - this was shot by rick....hence, why i am in the shot....being amazed by all of the sheep running by me....definitely glad we chose this weekend to be there....such an added bonus to an already spectacular trip...hopefully some day i will return to die and enjoy myself all over again....sheep or no....


from die, i needed to get to lyon, france to be able to catch a plane to london....and then catch a plane back to the states...lyon is a terrific town, and i had been there once before when my good friend lea was living there....i was there for mid-summer and everyone was out celebrating....as i wandered the town for the 20 hours i was there, i came across the sculpture above....the same style as one in shanghai....i assume it is the same artist...although this version is a bit smaller than the one in shanghai....very cool....
 

i really like lyon for its old, medieval section of town up on the hill....and the two rivers that run through it....i was there for a beautiful day and just wandered from place to place...
 

one of the main things i needed to do when i went to lyon was find the above statue....i love this thing...it is called la fontaine bartholdi - made by the same sculptor that created the statue of liberty....this is amazing, because the horses actually have steam/smoke coming out of their nostrils....because it was such a beautiful day, the sun was shining and made it really difficult to see the steam/smoke....but the last time i was here at this statue, it was late at night and they were pretty freaky.....so i just had to find them again....


and for my last shot before i hit the road to ghana, we go back to dijon, where we had an amazing italian meal....yes, that is homemade bufala mozzarella - as a burrata....yummy...plus, the pasta was homemade....it was a terrific trip in france with good friends and food and fun....how can you beat it???? i think that is what i am saying in this picture.....and so, it was a great way to start my vacation - ireland, northern ireland and france....easy, peasy....and then i was off to the states....

and so i have done it....i have gotten this finished before i jump a big plane back to ghana....this year is shaping up nicely for travel in africa, including some more exploration of ghana for you to enjoy....things will be quite busy for the beginning of school, but i am hopig to be in touch after that....hope everyone is having a good summer or winter, depending on geographic location and feel free to drop a line and say hi if you wish...thanks for reading the latest update....all the best and i'll catch you on the flip side....peace out....

1 comment:

Tina Bui said...

Beautiful country, wonderful food, great friends! Good luck in your new school year! x