Beaujolais Wine Region
We have a lot of stops in between getting to our next “sleeping,” destination (as one can imagine, traveling by coach literally across Europe) Contiki has done a really great job of almost always putting a place of interest that isn’t necessarily a place you want to spend all day, but would like to see for an hour or two. The town of Fountainbleu was that place on this leg of the journey. It was a somewhat crummy day and a good deal of people were not feeling so hot after the wild night out at Scully’s in Paris (remember, I opted out of this), so getting off the coach and getting some fresh air was nice. The town was very nice, but we encountered Zac’s first, “just around the corner,” situation, when he swore the supermarket/clothing store was just around the corner, which was actually a bit more like a 20 min walk. Not a big deal until we were walking back….but I’ll get to that. I took money out at the cash machine (thank god I did, but I will also get to that later on) and found the store. I grabbed some headphones (I packed mine in my bag in the bottom of the coach), an European hairdryer, wrapping paper & a bow (for the “P” party, which I decided to go as a present) and some food items including TUC crackers, which become a virtual food group to the group as the tour continued, and Babybel cheese (forgetting there as a strict NO DAIRY or hot food rule on the coach). Now, this was a 50 minute stop, take out the 40 minute commute to and from the store, 10 minutes at the cash machine and you find everyone, including the hung over people, RUNNING to the coach. I got there with 4 minutes to spare (I was breathing so hard I was seeing stars). A few people were a bit late and Zac had to put on his serious cap and reprimand us for being late. Apparently a few minutes off schedule is a serious deal, so it was a bit of a quieter bus ride the rest of the way.
Day 6 (cont'd)
We arrived at the Chateau in the Beaujolais wine region mid afternoon and as soon as we unloaded our bags off the coach, ran up to the 3rd story where our rooms were, we were to report back downstairs to embark on our winetasting! 5 minutes into this place and we are drinking, hells yes. I certainly needed a drink after seeing how tiny the room I was sharing with Ellie, Rachel and Kate was. Kate and I were stuck on the top bunks in a room that barely held our suitcases! “You are in France, in the wine countryside, stop complaining,” I kept saying over and over in my head. We had a locked door in our room that hid the stairwell that lead to the top of the Chateau, I swore we were going to break into, but being we had to put our suitcases in front of it and Contiki (who owned the Chateau), would know it was us, we didn’t end up doing it. The wine tasting was held in the Beaujolais winery that was literally just around the corner from us (not one of Zac’s “corners”). We were there with another group and the guys that were the site reps gave us a quick rundown on the tradition and romance that is involved with growing and harvesting the grapes (one of them used George’s balls as an example of how to harvest the grapes). We learned the proper way to see, smell and taste the wine (I thought Rachel was going to “spew” as she says, because she was STILL feeling the effects from the night before). They told us the great deals there were on the bottles starting at around 5€ and the most expensive being around 9€. This basically meant we were all getting crunk. I was assigned as a “cookie,” for the stay meaning I went to all meals about 15 minutes early, set the tables and serve everyone. No problem. Some people were assigned as “dishies,” which meant you had to pick up after everyone, so I was happy with my title. After dinner, we hung out for a bit, just relaxing and I went down to use the Internet. I knew I needed to email Bank of America about them not sending me my bankcard and seeing if they would just send it over to Europe. That ended up being, by far, one of the biggest mistakes ever. I headed back up to my room and went to bed.
The next morning, we had breakfast (I didn’t realize cookies did breakfast as well and missed it), met the dog of the house and prepared for our picnic “walk.” I put the “walk,” in quotations because it was a F-ing picnic HIKE! We took our 20 pound picnic basket and head up the mountain with a very vague map (that only had "landmarks" on it) and a sheepdog that we all, for some reason, thought was Lassie, leading us to the perfect picnic patch. I was dead last walking, being I was prepared for a walk in a halter top and hadn’t quite mentally prepared myself for a hike. I finally caught up with the whole group, when (thank GOD) I was at the top of the hill in town and they were all heading BACK up because they had gone the wrong way. Eureka, at least it looked like I planned to be slow as fuck. We headed on the right direction and Rachel and I got a little separated from the group, by no more than 4 or 5 minutes. Apparently that and a fork in the road was enough for us to become COMPLETELY left by our group (& basket) and ended up with the other tour that was staying at the chateau that night. Eh, a mostly cute, funny Australian boy group…not like it was the absolute end of the world. There were about 15 of us and one basket. Do the math. At this point Rachel and I were just trying to find our group, with the weather changing from cold rain to hot humidity literally by the minutes. The view was breathtaking, but the giant thunderhead loaming over the mountain was enough to bring us back to earth and try to figure out a way just to get back to the Chateau. We made that decision literally on the top of the mountain. Literally. We left the other tour group (another reason was there was a particular girl on our group that was a bit off and sometimes quite rude, that decided to school one of the guys, who was holding the basket this entire time without complaining and smoking, on the harmfulness of smoking…um we don’t claim her) and headed back to the Chateau. At the bottom of the hill/mountain back in the town, we decided that we may just find the group at the Pub. We were right. We ate and drank and was once again marry. Emma, of course, had made buddies with the other group, who turned out to be a pretty funny bunch. We strolled leisurely back to the Chateau, only stopping to check out some goats and chickens that were making a racket on the side of the road. I really needed some animals in my life. We headed up to eat dinner, relax and get ready for our “P party,” which with the day being the way it was, was already set to be a crazy night. Ellie and I decided to share a bottle of sparkling wine, which we quickly drank at dinner and got another one for our “getting ready” process. Emma had made the mistake of telling everyone that she loves doing hair and curling it and everything, so she had a line of girls, including me, to “do up,” for the evening. She didn’t complain though. I drunkingly wrapped myself up in my gift wrapping paper, and literally as I was tapping myself up, forgot that I needed to use the ladies room. I thought I was being very meticulous, just tearing enough of the paper to get my shorts down, but as the photos show, I was not as suave as I thought. We took pictures by sunset outside with all the Parisians, PJ’s, pink, purple and who the heck knows what else. I was waiting around for the party to begin when someone says, “Lets go down to the Cave.” Um, cave? What the hell is that? Then (from my semi blurry memory) a guy pushes open, what I thought was a wall and leads us down a sketchy ass staircase to a dungeon looking club. I think this is the first moment any of us thought, “Shit’s getting Cray,” which became a slogan of our group (well at least between me and some of the girls). The night was a blur of “strawpedos,” in which you put a straw in a Smirnoff ice (yes, I know…an Ice) and turn it upside down and it is supposed to just go straight down your throat, but everyone I saw that did it, including me, just spilled it all over ourselves. I think this was a trick the chateau reps like to play on the tours, to make them look stupid and get drunk as shit. Zac was a pretty pink princess prostitute or something. Mari from the kitchen area was there and she was super fun.
The night was hazy and needless to say, in the morning, I did not make it to breakfast to be a cookie or eat. I was quite happy to say goodbye to the Chateau…so happy I was moving too quickly to get on the coach, lost my footing on the slick ground and slipped pretty much under the coach. I wasn’t bruised (except my ego a bit), but my toe was busted up a bit and my entire ass was covered in mud.
Au Revoir France. Hola Barcelona!